CONTROVERSIAL plans to turn an area of Wroughton Airfield into a car auction site have been rebuffed following concerns raised by residents and councillors.
Under the bid by Alan Read, the tenant and leaseholder of the site, the former Hangar C2 and its grounds would be used for car auctions, with selling days for the public taking place every Wednesday with the possibility of 120 cars on sale at one time.
During auction days, the existing indoor leisure karting activity would be suspended.
Swindon Council received 40 objections during the formal public consultation, with Wroughton Parish Council objecting on the grounds of highway safety and traffic due to poor access to the site, and residents objecting to the plans over fears of traffic, light pollution and its impact on the Area Of Natural Beauty (AONB).
Tonight, officers will recommend the bid’s refusal to the council’s planning committee on the basis it would “have a harmful and intrusive impact on the particular natural beauty of this area”.
In her report, case officer Janet Busby writes: “The proposal would introduce a new use into the North Wessex Downs AONB which is unconnected with the current lawful use of the premises.
“As a consequence, the proposal does not comply with the Government’s guidance as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and with local plan policies relating to the protection of the countryside.”
John Newman, the chairman of Wroughton Parish Council’s planning committee, said he had expected a refusal recommendation, adding that the plan would see an unacceptable increase in vehicles on Priors Hill due to the standard of the private former MOD road.
He said: “We said in our official comment to borough officers, ‘in the unlikely event’ officers would wish to recommend to the planning committee acceptance of this, we would want it to go before the planning committee so it could be had out in public.
“There’s absolutely no basis for accepting this at all. The transport access would just be ridiculous because their claimed access is the MOD road which isn’t fit for borough transport – buses – at the moment and certainly wouldn’t be fit for transporters.”
In a design and access statement submitted to the council by Gary Llewellyn, on behalf of Mr Read, he said the applicant acknowledged that the development may cause concern but is confident that it would be well managed.
He added: “The application site is ideally suited and located for the submitted proposal in that it includes an existing large building and other facilities, in the form of car parking, cafe and toilets, which means that it can offer significant economies of scale.”