This has just been posted by the Ridgeway Ward Councillor Gary Sumner. Letters from Wasdell urging councillors to ignore officers recommendation attached.
I’m sharing some new information on this ‘landscape’ changing planning application for our villages & the North Wessex Downs AONB.
The Planning Committee meeting is this Tuesday 25th August.
The applicants (Wasdell) have sent two emails this week via their Swindon based PR company (since officers recommended REFUSAL of the application) to all Councillors at SBC (including members of the Planning Committee).
I’ve said that I would expect this to be public information. If this is being shared with councillors and unelected business groups then it should be shared with you - their PR representative agreed that this information is ‘public’ (although they haven’t actually shared it with the public).
The first (dated 18th August) claims that jobs will be moved outside Swindon (and staff released) unless they get the consent they want.
The second (sent Friday 21st August) attempts to address some concerns, but acknowledges the only ‘guarantee’ is Phase 1 which is the first large building (which includes little in the way of offices and is mainly a distribution warehouse) to replicate existing units in Swindon. The plans are public so you can draw your own conclusion on the use of this huge building.
The ‘new jobs’ come in Phase 2 which on some plans is shown as a 2nd Wasdell building and on other plans shown as the entire ‘science park’. There are NO meaningful GUARANTEES offered for delivery of that phase.
At public meetings in the village Robert Buckland MP offered his opposition as did Sarah Church speaking for the Labour Group.
At Planning Committee next week I will be asking for the support of councillors of both parties in refusing this application as recommended by officers (based on their detailed planning knowledge).
Highways England currently have a holding objection for 6 months - they are the statutory body for the operation and safety of the major road network including A419 & M4.
This application is recommended for refusal due to its effect on the setting of the Nationally Protected AONB, on Heritage grounds on the adverse effects on the Conservation Area of Upper Wanborough and on the non compliance with any part of the current or emerging Local Plan which allocated the land for non-coalescence to allow the New Eastern Villages.
In 2015 (in the current Local Plan examination) SBC allocated land for 8,000 homes and a 40ha employment site and an area was voluntarily ‘guaranteed’ as an area of ‘Non Coalescence’ to prevent the villages being joined to the urban area.
Any approval against officers advice will result in an automatic referral to the Secretary of State as a major departure from a Local Plan.
The whole reason for not looking at other sites is ‘speed’ (this has been going since 2018) and even an approval would be delayed by another year.
Jobs are important - the whole application is about a promise of jobs - and yet as soon as the officers said this did not meet the bar of ‘harm’ which the application does, the politicians all received an email saying ‘we will leave’ - (presumably including leaving those valued employees behind.....).
North Swindon residents might ask what protects Mouldon Hill, Tadpole Garden Village, Blunsdon, Highworth etc from development? If anyone can over-ride Planning Policy with a sufficient threat then nowhere is safe.......
The Planning Committee have certain expectations:
They must not ‘pre-determine;’ an application by deciding based on the applicants emails or threats of job losses. They must decide based on Planning reasons or their decision could be found unsound.
Significant costs could be attributed to SBC if members (against Officer advice) approved something without very sound planning reasons.
If Councillors feel that our own Local Plan (which they voted for) - or our emerging Local Plan (which they sent for consultation) was unsound why didn’t they say so before?
I urge all to reject the WASDELL application as still speculative, still not ‘quick’ and still on land which has incredible value in terms of landscape, ecology and history.
Call us today at 07956306940 or Email us at email@example.com
more detail to follow
Action Group opposed to the development of land in the non coalescent area or joining the AONB in the South Swindon Area
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