There was united opposition to housing on the edge of Lydiard Park at a public meeting attended by residents of Swindon and North Wiltshire, with MPs Robert Buckland for South Swindon and James Gray for North Wiltshire on 2 September.
A planning application by Taylor Wimpey for 50 houses off Tewkesbury Way close to the park is expected shortly, following two public consultation presentations.
But the MPs, Swindon and Wiltshire councillors and representatives from Lydiard Millicent Parish Council, Shaw Residents’ Association and Friends of Lydiard Park are unanimous that such development would break through Swindon’s urban envelope onto land that has never been considered for development, intrude upon the park, and could lead to multiple planning applications to the west and north west of the town.
James Gray MP said government policy created since 2010 is based on giving communities responsibility for how their areas are planned. “We are facing unreasonable development which will ruin a piece of countryside which is a heritage asset. The purpose of having the Core Strategy is to hand down to local authorities the ability to decide how many houses and schools they need, and where they should be built.
“The point of this meeting is to show there is a united voice to Wiltshire Council that an application to build on this land should be rejected. Both Wiltshire and Swindon now have Core Strategies for future development in place and residents need to exert pressure that these need to be respected.
“If it goes to appeal, the planning inspector will ignore heritage issues, but will consider whether the planning authority has acted lawfully.
“With the Core Strategy in place as the planning bible it will be far more likely the inspector will uphold Wiltshire Council’s decision. I feel confident we are on the right side of the law. Both I and Robert Buckland will be supporting residents’ objections.”
Taylor Wimpey has made great play of the fact that building only 50 houses will use only 11 per cent of their land holding and they will gift the remaining 89 per cent to a responsible body. However Kevin Fisher of Shaw Residents’ Association told the meeting that this is a deception. “The land they are saying they will gift away is either within the boundaries of the listed park as defined by English Heritage, or it would coalesce Swindon with Lydiard Millicent, or it’s an area that floods. They could only ever build 50 houses on that land. The idea of a gift is a ploy to get the public on side.”
Mike Bowden, chair of the Friends of Lydiard Park, appealed to elected representatives in Swindon and Wiltshire to be united in their opposition. He said: “We recognise houses need to be built, but there are now strategies showing where we want to build and we need to ensure Wiltshire Council officers know the strength of feeling against this application.
“This is a pivotal application. We know there are many local landowners who have options to develop sites from Woodshaw to Pry Farm. If this one gets through it will be very difficult to construct coherent arguments against future applications.”
Following the meeting Andrew Harries, chair of Lydiard Millicent Parish Council said: “We are totally against this project and refused to meet Taylor Wimpey to discuss their arguments.”
Robert Buckland, South Swindon MP, also said: “It is really important the principles underlying the Local Plan are supported. There are a number of applications facing us in Swindon which represent a concerted attempt by developers to test and undermine those plans.
“Opposition to this application must be for both emotional and strategic reasons.”
Coun Tim Swinyard has started a petition against housing at Lydiard: www.bit.ly/lydiardpetition
Taylor Wimpey did not attend the meeting. Their proposals are outlined at: www.taylorwimpey.co.uk/lydiard-tregoze