Land at Widham Farm/Widham Grove, Station Road, Purton, Wiltshire (REF 12/04009/OUT)
This letter sets out the policy objections to this application. The technical objections remain the same as submitted in 2009 and 2012.
In the Planning Design and Access Statement, the applicant (para 1.2) sets the planning context as being the planning appeal in November 2009. The applicant is wrong in this regard and should be taking into account the subsequent planning appeal in October 2012 where it was proven that the five-year land supply was robust. The applicant goes on to refer to an appeal decision in Wiltshire however it should be noted that that application (Ridgeway Farm) was for a strategic allocation and therefore relied on an outdated and unadopted strategic plan (the Regional Spatial Strategy, RSS) not a local plan.
It should be made clear that the applicant is wrong when saying that the Regional Spatial Strategy was adopted. It had gone through an Examination in Public but when its progress was formally halted by the incoming Coalition Government there were still thousands of outstanding and unaddressed objections. Thus, the RSS has little relevance to modern day circumstances in north Wiltshire.
It should be noted that the applicant is correct when stating that (para 1.4) the emerging Wiltshire Core Strategy does not provide a prescriptive requirement (for houses) in Purton. Indeed, that is the subject of an emerging Neighbourhood Plan, which the applicant is trying to pre-empt by submitting the same application within three months of its previous, failed attempt.
The applicant maintains as part of the 2009 appeal proceedings that the Council confirmed that the appeal site was sustainable. However this was not the case in the most recent appeal (2012) whereby all objecting parties clearly demonstrated that the site was unsustainable.
Ridgeway Farm is a strategic site and was seen as an urban extension to Swindon (whilst outside of the framework) and therefore could accept development whereas Widham is not part of any strategic numbers and not in any identified policy and is outside of the framework boundary for Purton.
It should be recalled that following the revocation (by the Localism Act 2012) of the Regional Spatial Strategy, the relevant framework is the Structure Plan 2016 and the Local Plan 2011. The planning inspector correctly identified during the 2012 Appeal that the Structure Plan requirements do not require housing at Purton. This has been re-emphasised in the emerging Wiltshire Core Strategy which clearly indicates that no further large-scale housing should be developed in Purton.
In addition, the Local Plan 2011 clearly indicates the extent of the framework boundary, and this site at Widham Farm lies wholly outside it.
During the Examination in Public for the now defunct Regional Spatial Strategy, the planning inspector explicitly said that Purton should not serve a dormitory function for Swindon.
Given that the housing plan currently shows one, two-bedroom house under open market conditions, and since the majority of housing needs in Purton would be for younger or down-sizing older buyers, it is quite clear that this housing development of 50 houses (predominantly populated with three and four bedroom executive homes) is not aimed at local need. But it is aimed at those from outside the parish who then will need to commute to gain their employment. This development increases the travel to work potential which runs counter to Government’s new National Planning Policy Framework and the express instruction by the Appeal inspectors (2009, 2012) that Purton should not serve a dormitory function.
Given that the application contravenes Wiltshire Structure Plan policy, given it contravenes Local Plan Framework Boundary policy, given it contravenes the emerging Wiltshire Core Strategy, given that it contravenes the new National Planning Policy Framework, and given that there is just one house, that is reasonably accessible to local need, we draw the conclusion that this application is of a most cynical nature and should be refused as has been done on four previous occasions and via two appeals.