Proposals by developers Primegate Properties (Hook North) on behalf of Bovis Homes South West to build 175 houses off Hook Street, overlooking Lydiard Park have been turned down by a planning inspector.
It’s the second time residents have lobbied for rejection, the first time was last summer when Swindon Council planning committee turned down the original planning application on the grounds that the site was outside Swindon’s defined urban boundary. Pictured, residents protesting at the gates of Lydiard Park last September. Below, residents and councillors celebrating victory on on 17 May
The developer’s appeal was based on the grounds that Swindon Council did not have five years land supply for housing as required by legislation. However planning inspector Geoffrey Hill took the view that development of non-allocated sites outside the designated urban boundary of Swindon ‘spread urban development into the rural hinterland of Swindon and it would also harm the setting of the Registered Park and Garden.’
David Barnard, chair of the Lydiard Fields Action Group said, “we are delighted with the outcome of the inspector’s report – common sense has prevailed at last. Lydiard Park and the surrounding countryside is a vital cultural and environmental asset and must be protected for future generations.
“The community was united in its opposition to this application and will, I’m sure, remain vigilant to other poorly considered plans. Developers must realise that they cannot simply bulldoze Swindon’s precious green land for the sake of short-term profits.”
Grange Park resident Sandie Brocks said it was a brilliant outcome for Lydiard Park and people living in the area. "We never thought this day would come. The jewel in Swindon’s crown is safe for our children and grandchildren."
Freshbrook and Grange Park councillor Michael Bray, welcomed the ruling. “We supported residents when their objection went to the council’s planning committee and the plan was turned down. I’m delighted the planning inspector supported the council’s view that the site in question was too valuable to lose to more housing.”
Fellow ward councillor Peter Greenhalgh said, "its an excellent decision by the planning inspector who recognised Swindon knows what it is doing and has planning policies in place."
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland echoed this view. “I am absolutely delighted with this news. It is a victory for good sense and for the entire community of Swindon, who use and love Lydiard Country Park. I want to pay tribute to local residents, councillors and campaigners who got together, rolled up their sleeves and worked hard to achieve this positive outcome.”
“The planning process can often be frustrating, but on this occasion it is the views of local people and Swindon Council that have prevailed”
Wiltshire councillor Mollie Groom said she was very pleased by the ruling. "I couldn’t be more pleased with the decision to keep Lydiard Park free of more housing crowding upon its boundaries. The decision sends a message to developers who have their eyes on and interest in the green fields to the south of the park in Wiltshire. I very much hope they think very hard about whether its worth even discussing the idea of building houses there."
Pictured above, some of the winning team, delighted with planning outcome, from front left, coun Mick Bray, Andy Drinkwater, Lorraine Williams, Geraldine Barnard, Madeline Capel, David Barnard. Back, Tim Swinyard, Sandie Brocks, Wiltshire councillors Mollie Groom Callum Brocks, coun Peter Greenhalgh Christopher Barnard. Below, Lydiard House
In a statement Primegate Properties (Hooknorth) Ltd responded that it is "obviously extremely disappointed by the Inspector’s decision to dismiss the appeal concerning residential development on land north of Hook Street. He determined that the impacts of the proposal on the landscape character area and on external appreciation of the significance of the Park boundary by the site.
"The Inspector clearly refuted the Council’s untenable arguments on five year housing land supply, as required by National Planning Policy. In this he gave little weight to the intention to revoke the Regional Strategy or, until such time as it has been scrutinised through Public Examination, the Borough housing provision in the latest Core Strategy document. The Inspector’s conclusion that there is not a five year supply of housing land in Swindon confirms that it is highly likely that applications will continue to be brought forward on this basis for individual determination by the Council on the basis of their suitability and environmental sustainability.
"Primegate Properties is now reviewing its options as to how it can respond positively to the decision, ranging from a revised proposal to legal challenge."