Thousands of new homes are being proposed for Swindon up to 2026 and a good number are likely to be built on the edges of West and North Swindon.
January's SwindonLink highlighted proposals put to last year’s Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West (RSS) planning enquiry last year, by a consortium of developers, suggesting expansion in the west and north of the town would allow central government demands for more housing to be met quickly.
(Pictured right, what was known as The Red Bird line, showing the proposed extent of Swindon's urban expansion in the mid-1960s. The RSS strategy seems to be bringing about the possibility. Red Bird and The Silver Book – see below)
The report from the enquiry, published on 11 January, sets out where building should take place, including some of the ideas for West and North Swindon put forward by the building companies. It says there should be:
• 19,000 in the urban area. This includes the houses still to be built in Priory Vale, the Front Garden and possibly Commonhead (by Coate Water);
• 12,000 in a strategic urban extension to the east of Swindon (equal in size to West Swindon). This Eastern Development Area would extend both north and south of the A420. Approximately 5,000 homes would be built to the south of the A420 towards Wanborough village. The remaining 7,000 would be built around South Marston right up to the edge of Blunsdon to the north;
• 1,200 in other parts of borough, i.e. Highworth, Wroughton and within the town;
• 2,000 in strategic urban extensions. This could be at Tadpole Farm north of Oakhurst, right, which is already owned by developers Crest Nicolson and within Swindon’s boundaries. It has good access to the A419 and the M4 as well as shopping closeby.
• 3,000 as an urban extension to Swindon in North Wiltshire. There was already an outstanding requirement to provide land for another 1,000 homes from an earlier planning enquiry but this number has been trebled. This could be at Ridgeway Farm, on the other side of Purton Road from Peatmoor. This area was originally included in the western expansion in the early 1970s but a planning inspector in the early 1980s determined that Purton Road be the development boundary.
Expansion by North Wiltshire on the edge of the town will require coordination with Swindon Council as there will be extra pressure from new households on roads, sewage, green spaces and schools. The August 2007 Link magazine reported the rejection by councillors from both authorities of the 1,000 homes ‘west of Swindon’ requirement.
But where will the 5,000 homes demanded be built?
Swindon Council has already made it clear to central Government that significant amounts of capital has to be made available for expansion, and there is disagreement between local MPs and the council’s cabinet on how to fund huge development works.
The RSS report is now in the hands of the Government Office for the South West and is likely to be adopted as the development strategy for the future.
Swindon Council will have to incorporate its requirements into its own Core Strategy plans which are unlikely to be adopted until 2010. However the RSS report could be seen by housing developers as the green light to build on their existing land interests and they could try to get planning permission to build in advance of an agreement to develop the town in a strategic way.
The Silver Book: 40 years later
A planning report in 1968 ‘Swindon – A study for further expansion,’ which became known as The Silver Book because of its cover, proposed that Swindon should become a huge city of nearly 300,000 by 2001 stretching beyond Purton and towards Cricklade, but not including the Front Garden, Commonhead, nor east of the A419.
A copy can be borrowed from Swindon Link by mailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Below, Ridgeway Farm and Peatmoor, the area that could be built upon within a few years