Wiltshire Council has published its future planning Core Strategy which allocates land for only 200 houses which are already being built at Moredon Bridge, and scraps the idea for 3,000 houses west of Swindon, the number proposed under the previous government’s planning regime.
The document acknowledges that the planning application for 800 homes at Ridgeway Farm already lodged with the council by Taylor Wimpey will have to be considered and may be built if it is passed. It says: ‘Any development that does come forward in line with previous policy for development at the western edge of Swindon will be above and beyond the overall housing target for Wiltshire and the Wootton Bassett and Cricklade Community Area.’
Curiously Wiltshire seems to have created a new district in the county called West of Swindon. Nevertheless the Core Strategy will strengthen the opposition of people living around Lydiard Millicent and Purton and West Swindon who have objected to more unsustainable housing development, which will impose huge pressure on Swindon’s already congested infrastructure.
The rejection of 175 more houses next to Lydiard Park and homes in Grange Park by a planning inspector in May on the basis that Swindon Council’s Core Strategy provides for adequate future housing development on designated sites will also make it harder for Taylor Wimpey to argue that Ridgeway Farm should go ahead.
The Taylor Wimpey application states that a planning inspector in 2004 instructed Wiltshire and Swindon councils to find sites for 1,000 houses ‘West of Swindon,’ and also says that Ridgeway Farm was included in the original 1980s Swindon Council Master Plan for the western expansion which was rejected at a planning appeal.
Richard Pagett of environmental group Purton Ps & Qs said, “it’s good news that Wiltshire Council has finally recognised that development to the west of Swindon in north Wiltshire is not a sound proposition. It has been said for years of course, but only recently has the council finally recognised what county, parish and Swindon councillors, MPs and many local communities have known and argued for all along.
“I hope that the planners and the Wiltshire Strategic Planning Committee will now refuse the Ridgeway Farm application which tried to sneak in before Wiltshire Council had re-done the sums on housing requirements.”
Coun Peter Greenhalgh, Swindon Council cabinet member for strategic planning, said, “Wiltshire appears to have taken notice of our Core Strategy but has not ruled out building at Ridgeway Farm.”
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland welcomed the decision. “This certainly makes a rejection of speculative development proposals more likely but I expect Ridgeway Farm will go to a planning appeal when everybody will need to make their views heard.”
Consultation on the Wiltshire Core Strategy
A public presentation of the plans for the Wootton Bassett & Cricklade area will be available to view on 20 July, 2pm to 8pm, Wootton Bassett Library, Borough Fields, SN4 7AX
See it online and comment via: www.wiltshire.gov.uk/wcsconsult2011