Wiltshire Council is still proposing to build another 3,000 homes to the north of West Swindon, close to Purton, as part of the preparation of its Core Strategy plans which will determine development up to 2026.
Despite proposals for huge housing developments in different parts of the country being delayed by legal proceedings, planning authorities continue to go through a ‘consultation’ procedure to get these strategy plans in place.
Swindon Link has highlighted several times this year Wiltshire Council’s idea to allocate land next to Peatmoor and Sparcells at Ridgeway Farm, and further north at Pry Farm – beyond Swindon’s boundaries – which could have huge effects on the infrastructure of West Swindon and the town more generally. See coverage below and a larger image right.
The Pry Farm plan will have major impact on North Swindon as road access might have to be created from Oakhurst.
Environmental campaigners in Purton strongly argue that it’s important to preserve the character and sustainability of the village so it does not become a suburb of Swindon.
Before the Wiltshire 2026 Core Strategy is drawn up, the council is displaying its plans for the final time on:
Monday 30 November, 1pm to 7pm: Wootton Bassett (Civic Centre);
Thursday 3 December, 1pm to 7pm: Cricklade (town council office);
Saturday 5 December, 11am to 2pm: Purton Village Hall
Final comments on Wiltshire’s Core Strategy scheme should be submitted by 31 December.
Richard Padgett of environmental group Purton Ps&Qs said, “it’s very important that as many people from Swindon take a look at the plans and express their views. What is proposed for Ridgeway Farm and Pry Farm will have a major effect on the town as well as the countryside close to Purton. Anything unsaid now will come back to haunt us.”
SwindonLink's coverage in March 2009
Green fields in North Wilts between West Swindon and Purton are threatened with development of 3,000 homes which will result in traffic congestion, more flooding and considerable strain on education and social infrastructure.
The problems could be the result if the preferred option of a joint study by planners from Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council go ahead.
In 2004, under old local strategic planning rules the number was 1,000 houses. Now, under the government’s Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) planning specifies that this should be increased to 3,000.
And if you didn’t know much about this, it’s because spatial strategic plans are developed at a south west regional level and overall target numbers of dwellings are handed down to local authorities to work out where to put them. And because the housing allocation is in North Wilts, publicity has taken place across the border, even though the plan is an urban extension to Swindon.
Pictured left, flooding at the River Ray, at the bottom of the Moredon Bridge development site
The planners say 3,000 houses can be built at Moredon Bridge, next to Sparcells, at Ridgeway Farm, and Pry Farm, on either side of the B4553 towards Cricklade, next to the underground strategic aviation fuel dump with a pipeline running to RAF Fairford.
Wiltshire County Councillor Mollie Groom from Lydiard Millicent is appalled by the proposals. “There has been no assessment for 3,000 houses to the west of Swindon prior to the allocation in the draft RSS. Community representatives informed the inquiry that there was insufficient infrastructure in the area. The supply of clean water will be a major problem, as will be sewage disposal. The proposal will mean loss of green fields and flooding upstream on the River Ray.”
Dr Richard Pagett of Ps and Qs (a sustainability group from Purton) commented, “The consultation is premature since the document (the Regional Spatial Strategy) which proposes that 3,000 of Swindon’s houses should be built in North Wiltshire has not been published and has been delayed for the second time.
"The strategy merely receives the housing allocation from central government and then apportions them across the South West without any serious reflection on local conditions, leaving that to the local planning authorities (SBC and WCC).
"The trouble is that nowhere in this process is the quantity of houses challenged. The house numbers are predicated on economic models that assume, indeed require, continued growth. This we all know now is fundamentally flawed.
"Given that resources for economic growth are finite it is clear that year on year growth in housing is unsustainable and is not needed. Even assuming 3,000 houses were really needed then putting them on meadows that routinely flood (such as Moredon Bridge, The Pry and Ridgeway farm) is not credible; the flood risk assessments that are relied upon in these matters is unsound.”West Swindon objectors pictured on 25 March overlooking the Ridgeway Farm site, from left, councillors Nick Martin and Keith Williams, Sparcells resident Melvin Smith and Peter Heaton-Jones, Prospective Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Swindon South Robert Buckland, Sparcells resident Sue Smith
West Swindon councillor Keith Williams believes traffic congestion will be enormous. “These proposals will have a major impact on Swindon’s infrastructure. Traffic congestion in all directions is assured, flooding in West and North Swindon is an issue and there will be huge strain on education provision.”
Road access will be a major problem to the Pry Farm area and new roads from Oakhurst and off Thamesdown Drive could be a possibility.
Coun Nick Martin said, “you just can’t piggyback 3,000 more homes onto West Swindon. We will be putting a resolution to a full meeting of Swindon Council on 23 April calling on the government to stop these proposals.”
Mollie Groom pictured with North Wilts MP James Grey, centre, at a protest against development close to Lydiard Park in 2005.
Robert Buckland, prospective parliamentary candidate for South Swindon said the RSS process is undemocratic. “There is a lack of accountability in how housing numbers are foistered on localities which has got to be rectified. The new economic realities of the present day demand a rethink.”
North Swindon MP Michael Wills denied being 'keen on this proposals' as reported in the Swindon Advertiser and on the Advertiser web site. He said, "I made it clear on BBC Radio Swindon that the area is not in my constituency and I do not know anything like enough about this plan to have reached a judgement about it.
"I made some general comments about the need for affordable housing and how this poses difficult choices for the Swindon, but the Advertiser reinterpreted these comments and attributed views to me which I do not, and cannot hold, without even having the courtesy of trying to talk to me.
"I am incensed by this sloppy and lazy unprofessionalism. I have contacted the editor to have this report corrected immediately."
• Swindon Link magazine has reported the growth proposals since 2004, but North Wilts planners announced their preferred options for growth at the end of February after the magazine went to print, setting a closing date for comments of 30 March.
The information was immediately available at www.swindonlink.com, but the majority of people will not be aware of the plans or its implications.
The proposals were presented in Purton on 4 March and a display was organised on 11 March at Peatmoor after The Link called on West Swindon councillors to give people a chance to see them.
North Swindon to keep growing as well
Land to the north of Oakhurst at Tadpole Farm, which is within Swindon Council’s boundaries has been allocated for 2,000 homes as part of the government’s requirement for 37,200 homes in Swindon by 2026.
The study also considered a number of alternative options which are considered unsuitable – as show below. See the complete details outlined on the West of Swindon Study downloadable pdf.
The detail of the West of Swindon study can also be found at: www.wiltshire.gov.uk/environment-and-planning/planning-home/local-development-framework/ldf-west-of-swindon-update.htm
A consultation runs until Monday 30 March 2009. Responses can be made on line at www.wiltshire.gov.uk/local-development-framework
or by email to: email@example.com
or by post to Spatial Plans Team, North Wiltshire District Council, Monkton Park, Chippenham, Wiltshire SN15 1ER.