A planning inspector was supposed to pronounce on 1 November as to whether Taylor Wimpey should be permitted to build 700 houses at Ridgeway Farm, north of Peatmoor, over Swindon’s border in Wiltshire.
However the announcement of the decision by the Secretary of State for the Environment has been delayed and there is no indication when it wil be made
The original planning application was turned down by Wiltshire Council in 2011 after concerted opposition by MPs and councillors from both authorities, community groups and over 1,000 people who signed a petition.
Taylor Wimpey’s appeal against the rejection was heard in May, arguing that they are well placed to provide new homes.
Opponents told the inspector Katie Peerless that the impact on Swindon’s infrastructure, particularly the road network, from an unplanned development would be considerable, whilst Wiltshire residents expressed concern that the town should remain within its existing boundary.
Shaw resident Kevin Fisher, above and right, who spoke effectively at the public enquiry said: “The Secretary of State has two decisions to make, one is whether to approve the Wiltshire Council core strategy, the other is whether to approve or reject the Ridgeway Farm appeal.
“To approve the former means he cannot approve Ridgeway Farm since such a development is outside of the strategy. To reject the former would make a mockery of the Localism Act by, in effect, dictating to local councils the content of their strategy and returning the system to the centralised process used by the previous government.
“I remain convinced of the arguments put forward during the appeal against development on Ridgeway Farm and cannot see how it can be approved.
“However, the government may well decide that development would help the economy by boosting construction GDP numbers. In my opinion it would simply slow developments of existing approved sites and not be of any benefit to the economy.
“In summary the decision could go either way but at least we as a community can be sure we could not have done more
Wiltshire councillor Jacqui Lay said: “We can’t second guess how Ridgeway Farm will go but I hope that the excellent representations made at the appeal hearing together with Swindon Council’s decision to proceed with the Tadpole Farm development will give the Inspector reason to dismiss Ridgeway Farm.
“I feel the most important message is that, for the Localism Act to be relevant to local people new sites must come forward through community led planning and that the people need to be involved locally to ensure we can have our voices heard.”
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland added that the groundswell of opposition to this proposal should not be ignored. ”Swindon and Wiltshire Councils, local MPs and councillors together with community groups have all opposed development at Ridgeway Farm because it represents an unwelcome additional burden on our local environment and infrastructure. I hope that the Planning Inspector will reject this appeal.”