AN INSPECTOR has turned down an appeal over plans to build 462 homes on Old Sarum Airfield.

The inquiry was launched after an appeal was made by Grenville Hodge, Old Sarum Airfield Limited, against Wiltshire Council.

The Planning Inspectorate has dismissed the appeal and refused planning permission.

The operators were looking to build 462 homes around the airfield, which is a conservation area and includes listed buildings, and to create what they called a ‘flying hub’ complete with a heritage centre, visitor centre, restaurant and new control tower.

Councillor Ian McLennan, who represents Laverstock, Ford and Old Sarum on Wiltshire Council, welcomed today's news.

He said: "This is a great day for Laverstock and Ford, Salisbury, and the nation, and the world. It is such an important heritage asset and it is good to know it is in safe hands."

The inquiry sat in October last year and again in February of this year.

A statement from Laverstock and Ford Parish Council said: "The parish council has always considered that the original planning application identified vast overdevelopment within the Old Sarum Airfield conservation area and is very pleased to see that the inspector has dismissed the appeal and the planning permission has been refused."

The chairman of Wiltshire Council’s strategic planning committee, Fleur de Rhé-Philipe MBE, said: ‘We are pleased that the inspector agreed with the council that the proposal is unacceptable and would harm the setting of both Old Sarum and the listed hangars at the airfield and would not preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the Old Sarum Conservation Area.  

“Her dismissal also upholds the council’s view that the proposal is in conflict with the Development Plan.” 

The airfield was designated as a conservation area in 2007 and the planning inspectorate report said that "Old Sarum is identified as one of the best-preserved flying fields of the First World War period" and had "one of the most complete suites of technical and hangar buildings of the period". 

It also has three former Second World War aircraft hangars, which are Grade II listed. It is now operated as a commercial/ civilian airfield, which includes leisure and training flights. 

The developed was proposed to be divided into three areas around the perimeter of the airfield. 

Inspector, Frances Mahoney, said that "on the face of it the heritage harm would be enough to reject the proposal at this stage" but she was "conscious that the development plan supports the principle of new development at the airfield" under core planning policy. 

She said that although a "goodly number of public benefits" would be delivered through the scheme the "delivery of those benefits can not be at any cost". 

In the report, she found the scheme "wanting in heritage terms" and that the historic environment "would not be enhanced". 

"The heritage harm I have identified, along with the specified harm resulting from conflict with development plan, are sufficiently weighty to clearly out-weigh the benefits of the proposal. They are also material considerations leading to a conclusion that the presumption in favour of sustainable development is not engaged," the inspector said.

"Consequently, I dismiss this appeal and refuse planning permission."