Friday 14 July 1989

Young Civic Trust Give Thumbs Down To Gipsy Lane Development


Members of the recently formed Warminster Young Civic Trust held an on-site meeting at Gipsy Lane, Warminster, last week, to discuss the proposals by the Bath Area Health Authority to sell the field east of Beckford Lodge.

The 2.7 acre field is in the hands of selling agents Halifax Property Services, and has a price tag of £1.5 million. Outline planning permission has been granted for 21 four-bedroom houses.

The Young Civic Trust is against residential development of the site.

Leader John Purkiss said: "The market for four-bedroom properties appears tricky at the moment and we hope this will put the developers off." He was quick to add: "The big fear is that the lull in this part of the market will force a developer to seek planning permission for a greater number of houses on the field. We would much prefer to see this land remain as open space, with the emphasis on recreational use."

The Young Civic Trust are anxious to make a stand on the issue, and will be canvassing Warminster residents to gather strength and collate views.

Mr. Purkiss said: "We have already heard from several people who are opposed to any building on the field, not only from those who live close by, but also from others who live elsewhere in Warminster."

Members have already approached local historian Danny Howell to see whether the site has any historical importance. Mr Howell, who is likewise opposed to residential development at Gipsy Lane, said: "The site is recorded in the 1839 Enclosure Award for Warminster as Cockrell's Field, and this was the location for one of the first recorded cricket matches played in the town. The match, between eleven Warminster gentlemen and their Salisbury contemporaries, took place in 1800 and had a purse of 500 guineas for the winners."

Mr Howell also said: "The iron gates and railings on the north side of the field, along the boundary with Gipsy Lane, bear the names of the makers, John Wallis Titt & Co., the Warminster engineers and agricultural implement makers. The ironwork was cast before the turn of the century, and, if the worst comes to the worst, I would like to see the gates and railings retained in some way."

The Young Civic Trust have also won the backing of Warminster Liberals. Paul Macdonald, chairman of Warminster Liberals, commented: "It seems to me that there are planners and developers looking like hawks at the map of Warminster, ready to swoop on any piece of green land, regardless of any problems caused by development. The access to the site is totally unsuitable and any development will be detrimental to the nearby Smallbrook Meadows, which were recently designated an area of outstanding natural beauty. The Liberals are already campaigning against development of the site, backing the Young Civic Trust for speaking out. We will support them to the hilt."

A survey has been carried out recently by Young Civic Trust members Andrew Gorman and Nick Swann, about residential development in Warminster, particularly that at Beckford: 75 people were questioned, of whom 49 were local residents:

68% said they were aware of the proposed development at Beckford and another 12% were in favour of the development going ahead.

Asked whether more four-bedroom houses were needed in Warminster:

4% said yes;
72% said no; and
24% said they didn't know.

Questioned as to what should happen to the Gipsy Lane site:

36% said leave it alone;
23% said they didn't know;
9% wanted starter homes;
9% thought a children's play area would be a good idea;
9% wanted sports use;
8% said they wanted the field tidied up;
3% mentioned some sort of community use;
2% suggested hospital building; and
1% wanted bungalows there.

When asked if they knew the price tag for the field at Beckford (£1.5 millon):

5% said yes;
95% said no.