Shaw Residents’ Association chair Kevin Fisher reports increasing levels of confusion over Taylor Wimpey’s detailed planning application for the first 218 houses at Ridgeway Farm in Wiltshire, to the north of Peatmoor.
Right, Kevin Fisher discussing the Ridgeway Farm plans with Taylor Wimpey development director Rob Phelps at a display in March
Despite the county receiving over 200 objections Wiltshire councillor Jacqui Lay has refused to call in the plans for public discussion. Now Taylor Wimpey have revised their plan to reduce the number of parking spaces in the first phase by 16 – a 21 per cent shortfall.
Kevin said: “The implications for on-road parking and the congestion this will cause is obvious. Taylor Wimpey claim they meet the requirements because they are building garages big enough to fit a car. I have repeatedly requested documentation from Wiltshire to justify counting garages and have been referred to a number of documents that simply do not give this justification.”
In a further development Kevin says Thames Water has sent Wiltshire planners contradictory letters as to whether there is adequate capacity to supply water to Ridgeway Farm.
On 11 July they lodged an objection stating insufficient capacity in the system. On 22 July they stated there is enough water, but capacity to deal with waste is inadequate.
On 6 September the 11 July letter of objection was reissued.
Kevin commented: “Thames Water seem to be in a bit of a muddle over capacity issues for Ridgeway Farm.
"First they state the system cannot cope with both supply and waste, then they say they messed up with their modelling and supply is OK but one department state waste is still a problem and another agrees supply is OK but is unclear on waste.
"Now they re-issue their statement saying both supply and waste are a problem.
"Is this simply incompetence at Thames Water or is there really a problem that needs to be fixed before construction starts at Ridgeway Farm?
"What seems clear is that this development is likely to bring far more than just traffic problems to residents of Swindon."
See the Thames Water letters at Shaw Residents’ Association
18 August 2013
Officers at Wiltshire Council are going to use their delegated powers to make the decision on the first three planning applications concerning the 700 home Ridgeway Farm development, to the north of Peatmoor, rather than the planning committee holding an open debate.
The applications by Taylor Wimpey include the design of the road network across the housing area, the first block of houses and a primary school.
Shaw Residents’ Association chair Kevin Fisher, left, said the proposals are flawed. “At the planning appeal in 2012 planners and the developers agreed behind the scenes to a narrowing of the spine road through the development – a road with houses fronting on it.
“The planners are now going to accept a scheme that violates the council’s own policy on the size of garages and guidelines on parking.
“Parking was not part of the planning appeal and I have asked Wiltshire to show me documents that permit variation on these issues – without success.
“Not allowing a public debate about the inadequacies of Ridgeway Farm, when there are 200 individual objections and a holding objection from Network Rail, makes a mockery of the planning system.
“It is very disappointing that Wiltshire councillor Jackie Lay refused to call the applications in for public discussion. The impact of this development on Swindon residents will be huge.”
However Cllr Lay, who represents Purton, (pictured below) said no Swindon councillor had been in contact with her about the Ridgeway Farm applications and Purton parish council had not asked her to intervene. She said: “The decision on whether the development goes ahead was made at the appeal and it is going through the planning system as a reserved matters item. We have to trust our highways officers who are the experts on the details.
“All of the public comments have been read by officers and are being taken into consideration. The public can also attend the meeting where the planning officer makes his recommendations and will have a few minutes to put forward their viewpoint, but they cannot question any response that the officer may make.”
However Kevin Fisher, ion 17 August, said that he had not received adequate replies to questions sent to Cllr Lay at the beginning of the month. “I have put basic questions to Wiltshire and the lack of response suggests they don’t have adequate answers and are hoping I will give up.
“It seems that they want to make the decision then say providing answers would be pointless.”
Click for more residents’ association views: Shaw Residents’ Association
25 July 2013
200 objectors might be ignored. Network Rail lodge holding objection. Thames Water withdraw objection
Taylor Wimpey has submitted three planning applications for the infrastructure to be built at Ridgeway Farm, a primary school to serve the area, and the first block of 218 new homes closest to Sparcells North roundabout.
Although the developers won permission to build 700 homes in Wiltshire on the western edge of Swindon after a planning inquiry, detailed plans have to receive approval.
But Wiltshire councillors have decided not to debate the applications and are leaving the decision to Wiltshire Council plannning officers.
At the beginning of July Rob Phelps, technical director for Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire, commented: “This is a pivotal moment for Ridgeway Farm. We have spent a lot of time working up plans to ensure the development blends into its current surroundings and we’ve taken on board feedback that we have received from the Swindon community."
Taylor Wimpey are updating www.ridgeway-farm.co.uk with latest developments in the planning process.
The deadline for comments on the detailed proposals was mid-July. However Shaw Residents’ Association has raised major questions about the conduct of the planning inquiry in May 2012. Kevin Fisher, chair of SRA, who attended every day of the inquiry, believes the public were misled by the information provided on the width of the main spine road through the development. See below
Some 200 objections on the poor infrastructure of the detailed planning application have been submitted, specifically the inadequate width of the spine road through the Ridgeway Farm development.
Thames Water stated on the Wiltshire Council planning web site: ‘Following initial investigation, Thames Water has identified an inability of the existing waste water infrastructure to accommodate the needs of this application.’
‘The existing water supply infrastructure has insufficient capacity to meet the additional demands for the proposed development.’
But on 26 July they amended their view, stating: ‘On the basis of information provided, Thames Water would advise that with regard to water infrastructure we would not have any objection to the above planning application.’
Network Rail has submitted a holding objection until Taylor Wimpey clarifies its drainage proposals with regard to surface water run off. They are concerned that the attenuation basin and the infrastructure swale could compromise the stability of the embankment supporting the railway line on the north east edge of the development.
Pictured right, the railway embankment which could be threatened by drainage from Ridgeway Farm.
On 22 July Shaw Residents’ Association learned from a Wiltshire Councillor that it is was ‘too late’ to call the applications in for a decision to be made in public before the full planning committee.
Kevin Fisher said this had come about despite emails to Wiltshire councillors and officers on the 3, 8, 10, 12, 13 and 18 July asking for the date of the planning meeting with no response until Thursday 18 July when planning officer Lee Burman responded to say:
‘None of the reserved matters applications have been called in for Committee determination and so there is no programmed date(s). Under the Council’s adopted scheme of delegation these Reserved Matters Applications will therefore be delegated to Officers for determination.’
Kevin said: “So, here is the situation: Taylor Wimpey will have consulted with Wiltshire officers throughout their application planning process to ensure the best possible chance of approval. Those very same officers that provided the technical advice will be making the decision on whether to approve.
“Does this sound fair, transparent and democratic?”
Cllr Keith Williams, Swindon Borough councillor and cabinet member for highways and strategic transport, said he was extremely worried that Wiltshire Council and its councillors were going to let the people of North Wiltshire and Swindon down. “Ridgeway Farm is going to have an enormous impact on Swindon yet Wiltshire seems intent on passing the Taylor Wimpey plans without any form of adequate debate where people can express their view on whether the details of the development are examined.
“In all my time as a Swindon councillor, including membership of the planning committee, I cannot recall a situation where there has been such a level of objection and the proposal has not been debated in public.
“Wiltshire councillors and its officers have a duty to allow the public interest to be served. They need to do the right thing.”
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland and his opposite number in North Wiltshire James Grey MP have been working in the background to ensure the public have their say. Robert said: “I would very much hope the decision on Ridgeway Farm will be made in an open, public forum and have called on Wiltshire councillors and the council leadership to allow this to take place."
“Network Rail have made important interventions that need to be examined fully and the 200 individual objections to the proposals must not be ignored.”
Pictured on the old Purton Road bridge, overlooking the Ridgeway Farm site in November 2012, following the planning inspectors decision to permit the development, from left, residents Martyn Parrott and Paula Russell, Kevin Fisher, chair, Shaw Residents’ Association, Richard Pagett of Purton Ps & Qs, Swindon councillors Garry Perkins and Nick Martin, Wiltshire councillor Jaqui Lay, Peatmoor resident Roger Ogle. Photo above and below: Richard Wintle www.calyxpix.com
Shaw Residents’ Association says decisions at original planning enquiry were not made in the open
The SRA predictions of traffic gridlock stem from the fact that the width of the spine road through Ridgeway Farm was presented in public as being 7.3 metres wide. Unknown to the SRA, this width was reduced to 6.5 metres in private meetings between Swindon, Wiltshire Councils and Taylor Wimpey during the planning inquiry in May 2012.
The association considers the opaque manner in which the change was made is a serious flaw in the public inquiry and Kevin has written to the Planning Inspectorate calling for the issue to be investigated before detailed plans are agreed.
Kevin believes this change will create the traffic chaos predicted in the SRA report of a survey carried out by volunteers in April, as reported in the May Link.
He believes building houses at Ridgeway Farm will only make matters worse. He said: “There are 54 dwellings fronting onto the too narrow spine road. Cars pulling into and backing out onto this major access road is going to disrupt the flow of traffic and create dangers for other drivers.
“We are also concerned by the fact that Taylor Wimpey have submitted a plan with 18 per cent fewer car parking spaces than that laid down in the Wiltshire local transport plan based on the number of bedrooms.
“We believe on-road parking is going to be a serious issue for this development and further exacerbate the road congestion predictions made by the SRA along with the dangers poor parking will pose to all road and pavement users.”
In a joint statement in June South Swindon MP Robert Buckland MP and North Wiltshire MP James Gray say they fully support the Shaw Residents’ Association in their endeavour to achieve the best possible outcome for local residents and call on all parties to carefully consider the issues raised.
• The traffic survey undertaken by Shaw Residents’ Association is available at www.shawresidents.org.uk/ridgeway-farm
• The Ridgeway Farm planning application can be seen at www.bit.ly/RFplanapplic