THE birds, butterflies and I are delighted to tell you that the threat to Lime Kiln Meadow has receded.

The Three Chequers Medical Practice has abandoned its idea of constructing a supersurgery with a whopping 250 parking spaces on this lovely County Wildlife Site, for reasons which vary depending on who’s telling you. Mainly, it would appear, financial.

Let’s just say that concern for our natural environment and its health-giving benefits doesn’t seem to have figured large in the decision-making process.

Green thinking remains strictly an optional extra in this great country of ours.

But hey, it doesn’t matter why. Rejoice, as Maggie Thatcher famously exhorted us. (Probably the only time you’ll catch me quoting her with approval!)

This little haven on Salisbury’s southern fringe, with its wonderful distant views and its gorgeous display of wild flowers all summer, is safe, for the time being – which is all anyone can ever really say about anything.

I absolutely get it that one of the key obligations for anyone drawing up a Neighbourhood Plan is to identify where yet more development could take place.

Nevertheless, I would now hope that the team working on Salisbury’s plan would include this little oasis in a list of precious open spaces which ought not to be built on, under any circumstances.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve read that, alongside its cathedral, the essence of Salisbury’s appeal to the tourists so necessary to its economy is its ‘rus in urbe’ – or countryside in the city – charm.

Sadly, this Latin phrase is most commonly found in strategic planning documents beadily eying up the next bits of ‘rus’ for their potential as housing estates.

(Incidentally, our mayor, John Walsh, who kindly stood in for me during my mother’s illness, described me as being “on the warpath” about housing. You need to understand, John, that it’s not house-building I’m upset by. Everyone needs a home. It’s just vast identikit estates plonked starkly on farmland with little thought for landscaping, next-to-no facilities, and minimal public transport links. There’s a massive missed opportunity for truly eco-friendly development. People and the planet deserve better.)

Anyway, back to that list. Other undeveloped sites that ought to figure on it include the Britford Lane meadows and the wild land next to B&Q, for their scenic and environmental value.

And back to the families marooned in those estates with no GP.

Where should a new surgery be? I’ve previously suggested the hospital campus. But that wouldn’t help people in Old Sarum.

A city centre site was mentioned in strategic planning discussions recently, when councillors were deciding what to do with money extracted from Bovis Homes in return for their mega-development rights in Harnham. But nothing specific.

Anyway, do we want hundreds more patients in hundreds more cars pouring in from all round the ring road?

Logic might suggest two new ‘satellite’ surgeries, one north and one south, to relieve pressure on the current city centre facilities. Assuming enough doctors could be found to run them.