A proposal by Primegate Properties (Hook North) to build 175 homes on the last field between Grange Park and Lydiard Park was rejected by Swindon Council’s planning committee on 12 October, but the developers are threatening to appeal against the decision.
Over 100 residents attended the committee meeting in the council chamber, some standing for lack of seating. Council planning officers had tabled a recommendation to refuse the application after intensive lobbying by councillors representing Freshbrook and Grange Park and over 200 letters of objection. Pictured right, Councillors Mick Bray and Steve Wakefield, with some of the residents before the meeting
The report described the site as outside the agreed defined Swindon urban area. The scale, layout and density of the Primegate proposal was deemed inappropriate to the site, whilst approval of the application would encourage further proposals for development on unallocated greenfield sites across the borough.
In the debate Freshbrook & Grange Park councillor Michael Bray said the developers just wanted to build more houses without regard to the pressure on the people living in the area, the inadequate road network to cope with hundreds of extra vehicle movements and lack of school places.
Coun Steve Wakefield, who represents Westlea, said the development represents a threat to his area. “The water from this site drains to Whitehill brook. Not only will there be a threat of flooding in Grange Park from rain water draining from this field, as experienced in 2007, there will be flooding again in Westlea where the council has already spent a lot money in protecting homes and the Link Centre.”
Celebrating success after the planning committee meeting, from left, coun Mick Bray, Tim Swinyard, Barrie Brocks, coun Peter Greehalgh, coun Michael Dickinson, Glynn Stevens, Troy Wilson
Coun Nick Martin said the proposal represented a wedge to prise open the door to development of 2,000 houses south of Lydiard Park to join Swindon to Hook, and also 800 houses north of Peatmoor at Ridgeway Farm – both areas outside Swindon in Wiltshire Council.
For the developers Alistair McDonald of DPDS Consulting argued that Swindon does not have five years of house building land available to it, as laid down in legislation. The Primegate application would make an important contribution to Swindon’s need for more housing, particularly the social housing element in the proposal. He added that visual intrusion on Lydiard Park was being protected, whilst the Highways Agency, the Environment Agency and Wiltshire Wildlife Turst had not raised objection to the scheme.
However Troy Wilson, of the Grange Park Action Group which has been arguing against the Primegate proposal since March, told councillors, “agreeing to this development would set a very bad precedent. The committee is already aware that across Swindon builders have permission for 7,000 homes which have not yet been started.
“This site has never been part of any agreed plan for Swindon and the developer is in complete denial of the potential flood risks, the inadequate access on Hook Street and the impact on Lydiard Park which is a jewel in Swindon’s crown.
“This is a test of government policy to encourage localism. Local MPs, local councillors and local people object to this development. If local decision making is to mean anything, this proposal must not be allowed to go ahead.”
The committee endorsed the officers recommendation and turned down the Primegate plan.
Afterwards, resident Bev Cejer said, “common sense has prevailed.”
Troy agreed. “Local decision making has worked because residents worked hard to show this proposal was unneccessary and inappropriate development and I’d like to thank everybody who contributed to this success.”
Swindon and North Wiltshire people combine to say no to Hook South 2,000 houses
On the other side of the Hook Street – in Wiltshire Council’s area – Primegate Properties (Hook South), also represented by DPDS – have submitted an outline proposal to build 2,000 houses between Grange Park to the hamlet of Hook, south of Lydiard Park and the M4.
At a protest held at the entrance to Lydiard Park on 2 October, right, North Wiltshire MP James Gray said, “I get the impression that Wiltshire Council has not realised there is a change in government and there are no longer regional housing targets.
“It’s now up to the people of north Wiltshire and Swindon to decide if such massive development is required. Wiltshire officers and councillors have to listen to them.”
Robert Buckland MP said it was important that people living in both authorities work together. “There is a need for housing, but in the right place. The Primegate proposal is a case of inappropriate development and should be rejected locally. There is no need for the government to become involved in the discussion because residents have no support for it.
The detail and description of the plan shown below, can be found by clicking here