Local protest group, the South Swindon Protection Group (SSPG), today called for the revised application for a proposed land development in Lower Wanborough to be thrown out by Swindon Borough Council (SBC)’s Planning Committee.
John Warr, the Group’s Chair, said:
“The South Swindon Protection Group is fully supportive of initiatives that create new jobs in Swindon in line with the Swindon Borough Council’s economic plan, but we are incensed by the baseless claims of jobs creation as a justification for building a new industrial park on green field land, when the SBC has made plentiful provision for employment land in its local plan.
In a proposal riddled with deficiencies the most breathtaking fantasy is their claim on the jobs this development would create. This leapt from 200 or so to 600, to 1200 in the wake of Honda’s announcement of losing many jobs in closing their site. This has typified their exploitative approach to seizing on hearsay to justify their speculative application.”
There is absolutely no basis for the assertion that this intrusive and ecologically offensive development will create new local jobs:
Planning permission is not sought for Wasdell or any other named potential occupier, but Wasdell has claimed that, were they to occupy this site, it would be “to locate all our Swindon businesses on one site”, closing 3 existing sites in Swindon and relocating their workforce to the new site. Wasdell invests in packing solutions, which has allowed them to reduce their workforce from 586 in 2018 to 519 in 2019. If they were to consolidate to a single site it would allow them to exploit the situation to further reduce their workforce.
As our report on Science Parks from expert witness Dr Malcolm Parry makes clear, there is no question of this becoming a Science Park. Public funding of over £20m was required to establish the Science Park at Porton Down, which after 5 years boasts creation of 100 jobs: and this with a world-leading R&D host driving the project. A Science Park hub company requires heavyweight, well-established R&D capability and ready access to academic research, none of which Wasdell can claim to have in the UK. Without a £30m investment plan or credible R&D hub to attract a pool of new start-up, it will end up just like Badbury Science Park: as housing land.
An Industrial Park abutting an AONB and rural leisure hotspot will have the opposite effect; it will destroy over 100 jobs from the local equestrian and hospitality industries and will deprive Swindon of an attractive leisure destination.
Wasdell provide contract manufacturing and packaging of pharmaceutical and related products such as nutraceuticals. A new, modern packaging and warehouse plant needs to be robotic and employ as few workers as possible in order to be profitable, generally employing low numbers of low-skilled, often zero hours, staff.
With 85% of the proposed building in Phase 1 being allocated to 12metre-high racking, and with 6 loading bays, the facility is clearly designed for B8 Class ‘warehousing and storage use’, and has been wrongly designated - almost certainly deliberately – as BC1 Class ‘light industrial use’. In planning terms it is easier to convert a proposal from BC1 use to housing use than from B8, which would require a fresh application. It is clear this is the applicant’s true game plan with this application.
John Warr went on to comment:
“SBC is working on a viable economic plan to deliver employment in sites already allocated in its plan to 2036. The NEV has just had its employment land application granted, which may attract a £400m investment, it is developing a potential site at Wichelstowe with M4 access and they are working with Honda to maintain employment at their site.
So there are several sites already established in Swindon that Wasdell could readily take to consolidate its operation that would meet its needs: but they may not be freehold. Commercial greed is not a reason to overturn planning policy and develop on green field sites, when ample vacant brown field sites are available.”
Over 800 South Swindon residents have already objected to both stages of application, and the SSPG foresees helping another 500 submitting their objections. This is an unmatched level of local objections from Swindon to this cynical attempt to end up with a lucrative housing development as happened at Badbury Park and will be repeated here.
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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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