AN APPEAL by developer Wainhomes to build 50 homes on ecologically sensitive land could set a precedent for all future decisions, it is claimed.

The land around Bradley’s Meadow, in Purton, is one of only two outcrops of calcareous grass in the area. The other is at Ridgeway Farm.

Planning permission for the site was rejected this week when Wainhomes said they would not be able to find a new home for the grassland, one of the conditions attached to the permission by officers.

Wiltshire councillor Jacqui Lay, who represents Purton, said the developer has now appealed against the decision, which could set a benchmark for developers.

“When Wainhomes appealed to build 200 homes at Moredon Bridge, Wiltshire Council refused but they won the application on appeal,” she said. “Part of the conditions was that certain areas had to be left as they were, including Bradley’s Meadow, which is protected as an ecological site.

“The developers have since come back with plans to build 50 houses on the protected site. “The planning officer attached conditions for permission to go ahead, which involved offsetting the ecological land. “The developers said they could not comply.

“If they are going to build on that land they have to move the grass land somewhere else. “They would have to find another site somewhere else and do all the leg work to make it suitable. “What people are saying is that if you really want to build on this land you have to comply with the conditions.

“It is the same with flooding. If you own a piece of land which regularly floods, you have to make sure you can prove what you have done will not cause further flooding and the houses will be protected. “Planning permission is not a right to build.

“The next stage is it will go to appeal in March. Because the Government have changed the rules to allow mitigation, the outcome of this appeal will be very important.

“Whatever the outcome this will make clear to other developers if they are expected to make the appropriate action when there is mitigation. “If the appeal is granted we will realise developers will not have to comply with demands put on them by planning officers.”

Richard Pagett, of Purton, said: “It seems the council should not be wasting their resources for the sake of 50 houses.

“They do not know if it will work. Given the government is carrying out an exercise in trying to understand if it is doable, it seems silly for the council to try to do something with its limited resources.

“The inspector said Bradley’s Meadow should not be developed. “But developers are very aggressive and use up huge amounts of resources because there is millions of pounds of profit up for grabs.

“We need green lungs in urban areas. Bradley’s Meadow provides that and the planning inspector has expressed the view that Bradley’s Meadow cannot be developed.”

Wainhomes was unavailable for comment by the time the Adver went to print.