The North Swindon Community Association has pooled resources and sponsored an independent review of Crest Nicholson’s Transport and Highways Assessment that accompanies the planning application for 1,700 homes at Tadpole Farm, north of Oakhurst and Redhouse.
At an open meeting in Blunsdon Village Hall in December North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson emphasised the importance of making technically viable objections to up-coming development proposals, and said Swindon Council had agreed officers would provide assistance.
The findings of the review of Crest’s plans, conducted for residents by Swindon-based consultants Badingham Limited, makes interesting reading says Stephanie Exell of Oakhurst Residents’ Association. She said: “It is very unclear how much of Crest’s traffic modelling applies to the whole Tadpole Farm development. It appears that their original assessment applied to the first phase of development – only 323 houses or 19 per cent of the total proposed.
“I am also concerned that the cumulative impact of other developments are not part of the discussion. For example the 700 houses at Ridgeway Farm in Wiltshire don’t figure in traffic surveys.”
The review highlights the heavy reliance that Crest place on a rapid transit bus route from Tadpole Farm to the town centre to reduce car use. However there is doubt as to the reliability and likelihood of such a service being implemented. Stephanie said: “It is our understanding that this idea has been withdrawn.”
The review identifies flawed data and some highway guideline contraventions by Crest, including:
• calling Tadpole Farm highly accessible when measurements were taken as the crow flies, against Swindon Council’s recommended approach of measuring intended routes from the centre of the site;
• not all parts of the site are within 400 metres recommended distance from a bus route;
• a lack of analysis of current travel patterns in the area:
• unrepresentative and overly optimistic trip rate figures for both domestic and light industrial traffic at peak hours.
Community representatives say they are perplexed by the council’s apparent easy acceptance of Crest’s case, despite it failing to meet the standards set by the highways department.
However, taking up Justin Tomlinson’s offer, North Swindon Community Association representatives met council officers in January and were told of the complicated procedures required to undertake a viable traffic survey – which residents would have to undertake.
Terry Hunt of Rodbourne Cheney Residents’ Association was very disappointed by the lack of real assistance from the council. “We wanted to ensure that any evidence submitted would be viable, but it would be ludicrous for us to try and find the manpower the council say is required for a traffic survey. It would mean surveying five junctions six hours a day, three days a week for three weeks, as well as logging an analysis of each vehicle.
“It is grossly unfair that the council could lapse the rules for the developers but demand exacting rules from the community.”
Steph Exell is also alarmed by the council’s attitude. She said: “It is disingenuous of the Borough to offer support to the community in an activity that is so unrealistic and prohibitive for us to carry out alone. Frankly what we were offered is an insult.”