27 NOVEMBER 2012: DECISION MADE IN FAVOUR OF TAYLOR WIMPEY PROPOSAL TO BUILD 700 HOUSES AT RIDGEWAY FARM
It was supposed to be made public on 1 November, but as of 24 November, people living in Swindon and north Wiltshire are awaiting to hear whether the Secretary of State for the Environment had decided to block the proposal for 700 homes at Ridgeway Farm or permit Taylor Wimpey to build beyond Swindon’s boundary in Wiltshire.
Speculation has been rife that there has been a struggle in Whitehall between those who want to see more housing built to satisfy demand and generate economic activity, and those who say that the government should abide by its commitment to local decision making.
After all, MPs and councillors on both sides of the border, and a 1,000 name petition objected, whilst Swindon and Wiltshire councils’ core planning strategies make it clear that expansion of Swindon to the west is not required.
Kevin Fisher, chair of Shaw Residents’ Association, above, who spoke at length at the Ridgeway Farm planning appeal in May, said: “The delay is disappointing and I can only speculate why.
“One possible reason is that the Secretary of State wishes to review and decide upon the Wiltshire Core Strategy in conjunction with the Ridgeway Farm appeal. To approve Ridgeway Farm is to reject the Wiltshire Core Strategy and to approve the Wiltshire Core Strategy is to reject the Ridgeway Farm appeal.
“A second more troubling reason is that the minister was waiting for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections so as not to affect the outcome for the government’s preferred candidate. This suggests he has allowed the appeal, a decision which will be very unpopular with local people.”
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland added: “The delay will be disappointing for many people in West and South Swindon who have been waiting for a decision.
”However, I hope that it will allow further careful consideration to be carried out, and that the Planning Inspector has listened to and acted on the concerns expressed by the local community.”