Housing developer Taylor Wimpey has promised to give the fields to the north of Lydiard Park to Lydiard Tregoze Parish Council and say this will be legally written into a planning agreement, should it be given by Wiltshire Council.
But the parish council say there is no agreement with the house builder.
At a second public consultation held on 3 June, planning consultant Peter Lawson commented the number of houses proposed had been reduced from 50 to 48 and the parish council would support the Taylor Wimpey plan, whilst agreeing to take ownership of 89 per cent of the land which the company has owned for about 30 years.
He said: “We recognise the first presentation in November left the key issue of what will happen to the land unclear. We’ve had a number of meetings with Lydiard Tregoze Parish Council who will take stewardship of the rest of Taylor Wimpey’s land holding between the park and the existing West Swindon housing.
“They recognise there is a balance to be struck between a small housing development and protection of a much larger area of land. Our agreement will be written into the draft parish neighbourhood plan.”
But Lydiard Tregoze Parish Council clerk Avril Roe indicated that Taylor Wimpey has jumped the gun. “The parish council has not yet issued any statement about this,” she said. “We are still in discussion with Taylor Wimpey and nothing has been decided.”
Rob Hammond from Winchcombe Close in The Prinnels supports the plan: “I think it’s a good development as long as the land transfer covenant is secure and the flooding of Hay Lane is dealt with. If the majority of the land is protected I’m willing to sacrifice a bit for 48 houses.”
However Steve Brown from Spencer Close in The Prinnels believes: “It is an unnecessary development on green fields. Why must they spoil the views from the church side of the park?
Arthur Beltrami from Spencer Close added: “Everyone knows Taylor Wimpey will push to get their way. They employ expensive lawyers to argue their case and use clever ploys to divide communities with offers of land to the parish council beyond Swindon’s boundary, in return for accepting these houses.”
The Friends of Lydiard Park, which has protected the interests of Lydiard House and the park and assisted with raising funds for restoration for over 60 years, have stated implacable opposition to any housing close to the park. Mike Bowden, the chairman, said: “Lydiard Park is a unique local asset and has a very special place in the hearts of local people, supported by their councillors and Members of Parliament.”
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland expressed his ‘regret that the developer continues to pursue their proposal.’ “It really is deeply disappointing that they are intent on ignoring the views of residents and the Friends of Lydiard Park,” he said. “The house and park are a jewel in Swindon’s heritage, and any planning decision must recognise its rural setting.
“The creation of Local Plans was a key policy of the last government. Wiltshire Council has agreed their plan and I will object to any application that runs contrary to a sound local plan.”
North Wilts MP James Gray has written to Taylor Wimpey’s chief executive Peter Redfern to express his continued ‘strong opposition to the westwards expansion of Swindon. There should not be a housing estate developed within the protected setting of Lydiard Park and in full view of Lydiard House and St Mary’s Church.’
However Peter Lawson suggested Wiltshire’s Local Plan has already been compromised after a planning inspector hearing an appeal in Corsham concluded that Wiltshire Council does not have a five year supply of deliverable housing land. This means the criteria for applying the Local Plan is questionable and the issue will be tested at a planning appeal if necessary.
Pictured top, Arthur Johns of architecture practice ALP discussing the homes designed for the Taylor Wimpey development with Steve and Jackie Brown and Yvonne Nicholls, centre. Below, the view of the site from Lydiard Park. Images: Richard Wintle of Calyx Middle, the Taylor Wimpey site layout. Bottom, looking across the site from Tewkesbury Way towards St Mary’s Church, Lydiard Park