A CONTROVERSIAL plan to build 19 affordable homes in Amesbury has been refused by planning chiefs.

Wiltshire Council’s Southern Area Planning Committee discussed the latest application put forward by Blue Leaf Projects for land at Ringwood Avenue on Thursday, November 14.

The homes would be a mix of two and three bedroom properties, including bungalows.

The application, the meeting heard, had received 32 letters of objection. But Amesbury Town Council were now supportive of the proposal and there had been no other objections from statutory consultees.

During the meeting concerns raised by residents included access rights due to the garages near the development site being privately owned and potential problems this could cause with the development, the impact on wildlife, the unviable access for emergency services and larger vehicles as well as construction vehicles and concerns over access to the nearby substation.

Resident Andy Pitt said: "One of the things the residents want to make crystal clear is this site is not suitable."

The meeting heard an attempt had previously been made to designate part of the land, which had been used by residents as a recreational area, as a village green but this had not been successful.

Councillors were told the area, which was private land, had now been fenced off. 

Further concerns were raised over archaeology, the viability of the site and impact on the “distinctive local character” of Lyndhurst Road and Ringwood Avenue estate. And the Wiltshire councillor for Amesbury East, Robert Yuill, raised concerns over the narrow access road and potential for vehicles overrunning the footpath.

A representative speaking on behalf of Blue Leaf Projects and Sovereign Homes, said the scheme had been “subject to a number of changes” during the application period, which had “addressed” previous concerns, adding that it was an “attractive, high quality scheme” which would meet demand for affordable housing.

He also said the reduction from 20 to 19 homes had freed up space for landscaping and the public realm, “better gardens”, and parking on plot. The representative also said pedestrian footways run "safely" and accessibly through Ringwood Avenue, and there would be "no need for the link up through the garage blocks" to the existing public footpath, adding: "Access is fully addressed for the site."

The representative said the pedestrian footways run “safely” and accessibly through Ringwood Avenue.

Committee chairman Fred Westmorland proposed a motion to refuse the plan with reasons including the design and layout. He said: “I believe, simply, they are just trying to shovel too much into it.

“It is capable of development but it requires more imagination and more design skill than has clearly been shown so far in my view.”

Councillor Mike Hewitt raised concerns about the access especially for waste collection vehicles and lorries and said the layout was “wrong for this”.

But Councillor Chris Devine said the development was “sensible” and delivered affordable housing, adding: “We know there is a dearth of rental properties, we are crying out for rental properties in south Wiltshire, we know this. Go and speak to any rental agency and they will tell you. This is a major issue, people can’t afford to buy especially in the current climate. This is what we want.”

“It is right for Amesbury and it is right for south Wiltshire and it is going to bring a lot of benefit in the housing market,” added Cllr Devine.

Councillor Brian Dalton said: “I’m struggling on how really this can be refused to be honest. I like the idea of the affordable housing.”

Cllr Westmorland also raised concerns about the layout regarding sightlines for vehicles. He added that “it isn’t the right design” and “on this design I believe it is overdevelopment”.

Seven councillors voted to refuse the application with one vote against and one abstention.