HAVE YOUR SAY ABOUT THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT AT TADPOLE FARM
Friday, 2nd December, 7pm
Blunsdon Village Hall
Oakhurst Residents’s Association across North Swindon have invited North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson to a public meeting to give the residents of North Swindon to find out what actions he has taken to protect homes and school places from the proposed development at Tadpole Farm.
See the outline drawing at the bottom of this page or see them (very large files) at the Swindon Council planning page: http://bit.ly/sbcplans – Search for: S/11/1588
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson writes:
After well over a year of speculation, discussion and consultation, Crest Nicholson has applied to Swndon Council to build 1,700 homes, a primary school, shops and an employment area at Tadpole Farm, north of Oakhurst and Redhouse.
Let me be clear and say that I remain opposed to this development.
Whilst it is welcome news that the proposed housing numbers have been cut from 3,000 to 1,700, ongoing concerns about traffic, infrastructure and school places mean that the plans are not acceptable.
There are five key areas to be considered in determining whether the development is sustainable and appropriate.
1. Traffic: The developers suggest directing traffic over a combination of Oakhurst Way, Eastbury Way and Ermin Street (the old A419), all with serious implications. It is absolutely clear that local roads can’t handle the proposed additional traffic.
2. Open spaces: I have continued to make strong representations on the need for a ‘green lung’ that would separate Tadpole Farm from the existing Northern Sector development. On this, the developers do seem to be delivering.
3. School places: There is incredible pressure on school places in the Northern Sector. It appears the developers would offer additional land for a primary school. However it has not yet been confirmed whether additional land would also be offered for secondary school places. Isambard is land-locked and there is pressure for it to be expanded, so failure to secure an additional site would only compound the problem.
4. Existing infrastructure: Crest Nicholson promised so much with the Redhouse development, yet we still await the completion of the village centre which looks very different from their glossy sales brochures. Residents understandably will be wary of giving them the benefit of the doubt on Tadpole Farm.
5. Quality of life: Now the Government has scrapped Labour’s high housing density rules, we have seen the proposed number of houses drop from 3,000 to 1,700. This is essential, as it allows for appropriate levels of open space and sufficient parking spaces, all too often compromised in higher density developments.
Applying those five tests to Tadpole Farm, my conclusion is that with the failings on traffic and existing infrastructure and confusion over the school places, I remain opposed to the development.
Oakhurst Residents’ Association chair Steph Exell explains why the association objects to Tadpole Farm. http://oakhurstresidents.blogspot.com/
We love where we live in Oakhurst and we have quick access to both facilities and the countryside When we bought our house here eight years ago, along with many other residents, we were sold a lifestyle – schools within walking distance, village centres with restaurants and coffee bars, village greens and public open spaces.
We did not expect any further development on the north-west boundary because there were already close to 10,000 houses planned for the Northern Development Area (NDA) and the Swindon & Cricklade Railway and Tadpole Lane seemed to form a natural boundary to the expansion.
There was no access from Tadpole Lane to Thamesdown Drive and Oakhurst Way was a quiet road. Traffic has become an increasing problem since the link between Oakhurst Way and Tadpole Lane was opened up (not something that was originally planned or publicised at the time) and the link road from Thamesdown Drive to the town centre has never been built, even though it was always viewed as necessary to mitigate the impact of the NDA on the road network.
However, now there is a proposal to build 1,700 houses at Tadpole Farm and a pyrolysis or similar waste to energy facility and local residents are justifiably concerned that these are developments too far. We are left wondering if the developers and the Borough Council will deliver on their promises, or if talks of aspirational lifestyle and road improvements are worth the cost of the glossy paper they were printed on.
So why do members of Oakhurst Residents’ Association feel that the proposed development of these 1,700 houses is not sustainable? There are three main areas of concern for the majority of ORA members which can be summed up in three simple phrases –increased traffic, lack of school places and heightened risk of flooding.
To consider the traffic issues first – there are two main issues seen by residents. There is the fact that the roads in north and west Swindon are already stretched to breaking point with Oakhurst Way and Garsington Drive difficult and dangerous for school children to cross, coupled with the volume of traffic that uses Tadpole Lane/Oakhurst Way as a rat run to get from the A419 to Swindon instead of using Thamesdown Drive.
This will only be exacerbated by the proposed 1,700 houses, which will add to the existing volume of traffic. The Highways Agency already has serious concerns about the ability of Junction 16 of the M4 to cope with the extra traffic from the proposed 800 houses at Ridgeway Farm less than a mile down the road (in fact they have blocked proceedings on this development at the moment for this reason), yet this junction is not even included in the traffic assessment agreed by Swindon Borough Council and the developers for the proposed Tadpole Farm development.
The rapid bus service from Tadpole Farm to the Town Centre has been a farce from the start. The developers have stated that the journey will take fifteen minutes in the peak periods. This is an impossible journey time given that the bus will be using Akers Way/Bruce Street Bridges, both of which are very busy. If the proposed improvements to the roundabouts from the Bruce Street Bridges along the Great Western Way are carried out by the Borough, the bus will still be in the same queue as everyone else.
Moving on to the issue of school places, the Boroughs’ own forecasting method predicts that the 1,700 houses result in a need for around 400 primary places and 300 secondary school places. The latest plans displayed by the developer have a primary school on the site but no land allocated for secondary school places. Unfortunately, given that schools are often not built until a proportion of new houses have been built and occupied, then it will be up to the existing schools in north Swindon to absorb these extra pupils for the foreseeable future – despite the fact that, as north Swindon parents already know, these places are far too few already. Even if portacabins are put on the site early there are still well over 500 children needing a reception place in the northern sector from the existing population in September 2012.
This will force parents moving into a Tadpole Farm development to try and find places elsewhere for their children – with the related car journeys to the schools, adding even further to the traffic problems mentioned above.
There is also very little employment in north Swindon, so people moving in to a Tadpole Farm development will need to commute to their place of employment adding yet more traffic to the roads.
This is against the sustainability targets of the proposed Swindon Core Strategy, which says that developments should be designed to minimize reliance on car journeys, with an aspiration that works and schools should all be within walking or cycling distance.
There are also unanswered concerns about the impact of development at Tadpole Farm on the existing watercourses such as the River Ray so as to avoid another major flooding incident in Oakhurst / Tadpole Lane.
The final area of concern is the proposal for a Waste to Energy plant being built alongside the proposed Tadpole Farm site, potentially a pyrolysis plant – this is untried technology in this country and carries with it the whole issue of the transport, storage and processing of municipal solid waste adjacent to a residential area.
ORA have been told that the outline planning application for Tadpole Farm is likely to be submitted in the next month with a statutory three week consultation when residents can object.
If residents feel so minded we would encourage everyone to write a letter of objection to Mr Ian Halsall, Planning Officer, Swindon Borough Council, Wat Tyler House, Beckhampton Street, Swindon, SN1 2JH or email Mr Ian Halsall at email@example.com
The plans for Tadpole Farm can be seen at http://bit.ly/sbcplans – Search for: S/11/1588