Wiltshire Publications

Campaigners angry that council are no help

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Westbury’s hospital campaigners are disappointed that they were not made aware of a change in Wiltshire Council’s Core Strategy review that could dramatically effect their attempts to save Westbury Hospital.

STOP – Sensible Thinking on Patients – claim that a  proposed change to Westbury’s settlement boundary could render the entire hospital site available for housing developers, where previously it was partially protected by council policy.

STOP founding member Erica Watson said, “Very recently STOP became aware of Wiltshire Council’s Core Strategy Partial Review. Buried within this 108 page document is a seemingly minor proposal to extend the current settlement boundary for Westbury to incorporate all of the Westbury Hospital Development Site; currently about 40% of the development plot lies outside the settlement boundary.

“If these changes are implemented it will make any planning application for the hospital site difficult to resist and will have effectively taken the democracy out of what should have been an open and honest process involving the community.

“STOP are left wondering if the intent to bring a planning application had not been lodged, whether Wiltshire Council would have included a change in the settlement boundary at this time?”

Wiltshire’s Core Strategy was adopted in January this year, then opened to review for six weeks from 13th April until  26th May.

The review invited  members of the public to comment on policy areas which may need to be revised. Comments could be made in writing, online, or via email.

Sensible Thinking on Patients have accused Wiltshire Council of not being forthcoming about the effect of changing Westbury’s settlement boundary.

Part of the hospital being outside of the boundary could make planning permission for housing much more difficult to obtain.

Section 4.17 of Wiltshire’s Core Strategy states: “Proposals for housing growth outside the defined limits of development will not be supported unless they arise through community-led planning documents.”

Erica continued, “STOP are disappointed and appalled by Wiltshire Council’s apparent hiding of this news, and call upon the council to be more proactive in notifying communities when they release consultations that might have implications for planning applications or similar proposals.

“We would have missed this vital information about the change in settlement boundary altogether if it had not been for a member noticing a headline in a South Wiltshire free newspaper.

“The campaign group feels that it was poorly advertised as none of our local papers carried news of the review or proposed change in the settlement boundary. Only a very few Westbury residents had time to object to the proposal before the closing date.

“STOP urgently need all our supporters, and anyone who feels that the decision to sell Westbury’s hospital for profit is wrong, to write to Wiltshire Council’s Planning Dept when the planning application for housing is submitted, clearly stating their objections – the more people who constructively object then the more chance we have of being heard as a community.”

The STOP group have gathered around 2,000 signatures on their petition to stop the sale of the hospital, and will soon become part of a task and finish group led by Wiltshire Council – the full story is on Page 1.

In the meantime, the STOP group continue to meet regularly and is busy organising public events to highlight their bid to stop the hospital sale.

To find out more about the STOP campaign or jump on board visit www.whitehorsewestbury.com.