For the last two years SwindonLink has been publicising the proposals to build 3,000 homes next to Swindon but over the border in Wiltshire at Ridgeway Farm and Pry Farm, and more recently another 2,000 to 2,500 homes next to Oakhurst and Redhouse at Tadpole Farm.
But what do you think? It’s time to stand up and say what you think before its too late.
Both projects come about from the government’s Regional Spatial Strategy policy which has identified the places across Britain for future housing and economic growth. But it’s up to local council’s have to come up with the proposals of how and where the homes will be built by creating a Core Strategy.
Swindon has agreed its Core Strategy for accommodating up to 35,000 houses, including 2,000 at Tadpole Farm – see the story on page 4.
Wiltshire Council completed its final consultations in December and its Core Strategy will be put before councillors in the next few month.
Despite the recession, the planning process has continued to grind on. The major question The Link asks: is building more houses to the west and north of Swindon a good thing?
Wiltshire planners say the urban extensions at Ridgeway Farm and Pry Farm:
• should have two primary schools and another secondary school, possibly built in conjunction with Swindon and,
• Traffic access could be made off Mead Way at Peatmoor and from Thamesdown Drive – across the River Ray and the Swindon & Cricklade railway line.
• Their outline plans make allowances for the flood plain and the Ministry of Defence petrol dump next to the main railway line.
People in northern Wiltshire object to the suburban environment consuming more green fields and closing the gap between Swindon and Purton.
Residents living across West and North Swindon should be worried about the effects of another 5,000 homes on every community service, the potential for flooding and the massive congestion on the road network.
Whilst the regional planning system has gone a long way, there is still the small matter of a general election this year and all the candidates from the two main parties say Swindon should not grow westwards.
MPs from Swindon and Wiltshire and councillors on both sides of the border say expanding Swindon into Wiltshire is not acceptable.
But do you, the people who will be directly effected by these plans, agree and what are you willing to do about it?
What do the politicians say;
Most of West Swindon was built in Wiltshire during the late 1970s and early 1980s before the area was transferred to Swindon. In the July Link magazine coun Gary Perkins (Shaw & Nine Elms) said the land should become part of Swindon before development starts so the town can benefit from Section 106 developer contributions and council tax income.
In December coun Steve Wakefield (Toothill & Westlea) endorsed this view. “Wiltshire is parking its tanks on our lawn. This plans must not go ahead."
Coun Nick Martin, Shaw & Nine Elms ward, who has called the public meeting on January, said, “I have some sympathy with the planners who are forced to find somewhere to build all the new houses being imposed on us by the government.
“But this is precious green space. West Swindon, and particularly our already congested roads, cannot cope with thousands of extra residents on our doorstep.”
Both Swindon South MPs Anne Snelgrove and Michael Wills for Swindon North say expansion is not acceptable if it results in a degeneration of the environment for existing residents.
Even though local council's have been pursuing government policy, Anne Snelgrove attacked Swindon Council for allowing this scheme to get as far as it has. She said, “I have opposed this development from the very beginning and lodged my objections with North Wiltshire Council when the plans were first proposed. The acquiescence of Swindon Borough Council in this plan has been kept quiet for far too long and it is important that local people know that the Council is directly responsible for these plans.
"I would urge everyone opposed to the development to send their objections, as I have done, to Wiltshire Council. I would also call on people to ask their local councillors what Swindon Council is doing to plan for the impact of the development if Wiltshire Council goes ahead. One of my main concerns would be around flooding, particularly because I have spent several years fighting for better flood protection in West Swindon which has resulted in measures being introduced in Moresby Close. The Government is now providing £100,000 to the Council to draw up a strategy to cope with flooding.
"The South West Regional Spatial strategy was drafted by the South West Regional Committee that is made up of Council leaders from across the South West. Almost all of these Leaders are Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. I will continue fighting to keep that traffic from coming into my constituency."
North Wiltshire MP James Grey also agrees that extending Swindon into Wiltshire should be resisted.
The prospective Conservative candidates for the Swindon seats in Parliament also state their objection and say their government would reverse the way plans are created and return such decisions to local councils. South Swindon candidate Robert Buckland is calling for the plans to be scrapped saying, “this is the wrong development in the wrong place.”
Justin Tomlinson who will contesting the North Swindon seat added, “a Conservative government will scrap the RSS to allow local residents to have the final say on any future developments.”