Plan's opponents make their views known
5:30am Friday 9th May 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
OPPOSITION to one of the major housing projects in the Swindon Local Plan was set out yesterday as the public hearing into its soundness continued.
The Local Plan is a document which outlines all the major housing projects to take place in Swindon until 2026, and legislates for 22,000 extra homes.
The Kingsdown development, which was discussed yesterday, would be located just south of the village of Blunsdon and would consist of approximately 1,500 houses.
At the hearing, which is now into its second week, the Ramblers Association, the Blunsdon Action Group and the Blunsdon Parish Council, outlined why they felt the proposal should be taken out of the Plan.
They say that there was a major lack of consultation on the plan as it was added very late on, it would encroach too much on the village and important parts of natural habitat would be destroyed.
The council argues there is a quota of houses the plan needs to fill and the Kingsdown site is the best outside other developments, such as Tadpole Farm, Wichelstowe and the Eastern villages.
The site will be accessed via a newly built bridge over the A419 which will be constructed after the first 600 houses are built. Although no formal applications have been put forward, developers have been in talks and one would be expected if the plan was adopted.
On the first day of the public hearing last Tuesday, the Blunsdon Action Group also said while it is important the Local Plan is adopted, the Kingsdown proposal should be taken out as it is legally unsound following the lack of consultation. They argue the parish council was not informed Kingsdown would form part of the local plan until late last year, although representatives of developers say there have been discussions regarding the site going back to 2005.
It was also highlighted yesterday that the development would come up to the back garden of properties already in the village, thereby encroaching onto the village.
Speaking at the hearing, Blunsdon Parish Council Chairman Ian Jankinson said: “There are three questions being asked here. Is the plan positively prepared? We think it was in fact covertly prepared. Is the plan justified? It seems it was created in a panic. Is the plan deliverable? Possibly, but at a massive social and environmental cost.”
Richard Freeman, council spokesman, said: “The great benefit of the Independent Examination is that it’s independent. We firmly believe we have produced a sound draft Local Plan and we are making our case to the Planning Inspector. Others might take a different view but like us, they need to make their case. The Inspector will ultimately decide, based on the evidence presented to him.”
The hearing will continue this morning at the Steam museum, in which the Eastern Villages will be discussed.
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