Evidence that the planning system has been sorted out may not cut much ice in Marlborough. Evidence that local opinion is still not being counted has come with the granting of permission for the developers Gleeson to build 180 houses in Malmesbury.
Except that there had been what might politely be called a slip-up. On Tuesday (March 19) the Planning Minister told North Wiltshire MP James Gray that the decision “had in fact been in error.” The Minister had ‘called in’ the application so it could be decided personally by ministers – but no one had told the Planning Inspectorate.
The previous day Mr Gray had written a letter to Eric Pickles MP (the Secretary of State for Local Government) saying how disappointed he was with the decision to allow the development. And he highlighted one paragraph in the Inspector’s report “which seems to indicate that he has given greater weight to the Government’s overall economic strategy of encouraging more house building than to the new Government determination to return planning to local people.”
The permission has now been withdrawn and the application will be down to the Planning Minister’s ‘personal decision’.