It was obvious to anyone that the Westbury Oak Inn buildings were old.
The Oak buildings occupied just a small portion of one end of the overall site and could easily have been integrated into the Aldi
supermarket development, had Wiltshire Council acted properly and made it a planning condition. Despite its fine words,
Wiltshire Council continues to encourage shopping by motor-car.
Planned demolition of the Oak buildings was kept discreet by Wiltshire Council.
Recovered timber analysis showed that the structure was 15th century (1490).
Some external parts were added around 1900 but the whole was much earlier.
The quality of work has not again really been achieved. When knocked down, it is lost for ever.
Much older structure is often within old buildings. Before demolition, Wiltshire Council was told by a local
historic buildings expert that the inner structures were probably medieval. The expert advice was ignored.
There were many opportunities for Wiltshire Council to consider the structures. Planning processes about these buildings were over
several stages and years.
Contrary to what some implied since, the Oak Inn buildings were never derelict or permanently locked up. The old buildings were
in sound condition and were in use, until towards the end, as offices and store rooms for a motor company.
Council conservation officers who did not bother to examine the Oak buildings lacked interest, lacked competence, or, as actually
happened, were ordered, from above, to do nothing. Wiltshire Council's conservation role is a sham.
WC's Core Strategy says: ‘elements of Wiltshire’s historic environment, which create a sense of local character, will be conserved
and their potential towards social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits will be exploited...' Yes?
The historic Oak buildings were significant to Westbury's character and useful for conversion to socially and environmenatlly
beneficial town centre homes.
The site of the flattened Oak buildings was made into shoppers parking space.
There was no useful publicity or proper consultation about the Oak buildings.
We are left to search for minutes or WC's obscure
notices - without knowing where or when to look. Wiltshire Council has had complaints about this over many years.
Wiltshire Council had its own Wiltshire Magazine, distributed throughout, but did not include the impending fate of the Westbury Oak Inn.
WC's planning consent for the supermarket did not mention demolition of the historic Oak buildings. Westbury Heritage Society
wrote to Wiltshire Council over a year before; it was fobbed-off in a disingenuous and misleading manner.
English Heritage West Bristol staff were unhelpful. A listing application had to be struggled with. This
was a disproportionately difficult exercise. Wiltshire Buildings Record was the only useful expert body.
Wiltshire Council was asked for a Building Preservation Notice, just to allow the time for an actual scrutiny, which had never
been done. Wiltshire Council bosses instructed against it.
English Heritage was worse than useless by accepting the bad moves, which followed wrong planning decisions, taken wholly without actual
examination. English Heritage's justification, after they were demolished, that the buildings were of insufficient interest as they were
alterated over the years, as happens to old buildings, is a cop-out. English Heritage never examined the buildings.
It acted swiftly only after the event to slant what had been allowed to happen.
English Heritage's information was photographs and notes taken by Wiltshire Buildings Record - in a hasty tour around part of the Oak Inn -
though not the brewhouse - only days before the ancient buildings were destroyed, for ever.
The fundamental observation that these structures were likely to be medieval was ignored by those directly responsible for conserving
The Conservative rulers of Wiltshire Council led the way to this disaster.
Medieval structure was ignorantly destroyed. Nobody can dispute this.
Wiltshire Council deliberately failed in its duty to protect our heritage. The Conservative leadership of Wiltshire Council
visibly wanted these old buildings cleared away regardless, for car parking and the Swindonisation of Wiltshire with the proliferation
of lots of motor-vehicle-served shopping experiences.