Swindon Council’s Core Strategy for planning the future of the town claims that 19,000 more homes should be built by 2026. But do we really need them?
Oakhurst Residents’ Association (ORA) is calling residents and community representatives from across Swindon to discuss the seemingly unchecked growth, including their fears for another 1,700 homes proposed at Tadpole Farm which could result in a much larger volume of traffic throught their community
BBC Radio Wiltshire early morning presenter Graham Mack will chair the meeting to take place at Oakhurst Primary School, Pioneer Road on Wednesday 6 April, starting at 7.30pm.
ORA secretary Stephanie Exell said early April is a good time to bring together people who will be affected by the proposed development. “The concept plans put forward by Crest Homes for Tadpole Farm during March will be fresh in everyone’s minds (read reaction here).
"In April and May Swindon Council is consulting on its new planning Core Strategy to allow another 19,000 homes to be built. Our meeting will give people from different areas the opportunity to talk about the major planning issues facing the town.
“The Core Strategy identifies North Swindon as one of the growth areas, but you have to bear in mind that the council’s master plan for Priory Vale only 10 years ago showed no sign of more housing at Tadpole Farm.”
For Graham this is the opportunity for get to the bottom of the controversial plans for continued expansion of the town. "Many people are greatly concerned about housing being built on green fields all around Swindon. I want to find out the truth about what’s going on. Is all this housing development the right thing to happen. Let’s get all sides talking about this – politicians, residents, developers. Put away the hidden agendas, get it all out in the open."
Oakhurst resident Brychan Travers added, “this meeting is what the coalition government wants to see – people discussing the destiny of their towns. I would urge as many people as possible to come along and air their views.”
See further reaction below.
Have your say about Swindon’s future expansion – online and in person
Proposals to reduce the number of new homes planned for Swindon over the next fifteen years are now open for public comment until 19 May, online and at public engagement events at the end of April and into May.
Following the scrapping of the previous government’s housing targets, Swindon Borough Council is consulting on its revised Core Strategy: the planning ‘blueprint’ for the future development of the town.
This sees the number of homes to be built in Swindon between 2006 and 2026 reduced by 9,000, taking the number from 34,200 to 25,200. Once homes already built since 2006 are taken into account, it means that up to 19,000 new homes could be built by 2026.
As part of the reduction, the new strategy proposes a scaling-back of development to the east of the A419, in what was known as the Eastern Development Area, replacing a large development of 12,000 homes with a small number of separate and distinct villages made up, in total, of up to 7,500 homes.
The Core Strategy aims to make sure that new development is properly and appropriately planned, so that new roads, workplaces, schools, shops and leisure and community facilities are brought forward at the right time to create sustainable and attractive communities.
Councillor Peter Greenhalgh, Swindon Borough Council Cabinet member for Sustainability, Strategic Planning, Property and Transport said: "This plan aims to build houses in Swindon to meet the actual economic demand for them, rather than to meet arbitrary targets.
"The Core Strategy gives the council a weapon against uncontrolled development, because if we have a credible, legally watertight plan for future housebuilding, we have a very good chance of fighting off applications and appeals for areas where development would be completely unacceptable.
"This does mean we have to identify areas for building, and the plan includes both Commonhead and Tadpole Farm, both of which are controversial. However the borough is not large and our options are very limited."
Swindon Council forward planners say that every year for the past 30 years, economic demand has seen 1,200 new homes built in Swindon, and this demand is unlikely to reduce.
Anyone who wishes to comment on the Core Strategy can go online at www.swindon.gov.uk/corestrategy Copies are also available at council offices and libraries.
The events where the public can see the plans and speak to planning officers face to face are:
North Swindon Library – 26th April
Wroughton Library – 28th April
Parks Library – 3rd May
Brunel Centre – 5th to 7th May
Highworth Library – 10th May
Central Library – 12th – 13th May
West Swindon Library – 16th May