THE MASSIVE Tadpole Farm development has been given outline planning approval after three months of extra negotiations between the council and the developer – but residents say their concerns have still not been addressed.
Crest Nicholson has permission to construct 1,695 homes on the site at Blunsdon St Andrew, plus other facilities, including a community centre, pub and primary school.
In June, despite concerns about congestion, increased flooding and lack of school places, the planning committee agreed they could not refuse or defer the application because they claimed there were not strong enough planning grounds to win an appeal.
Therefore members, after a proposal by Coun Toby Elliott (Con, Priory Vale ), empowered officers to grant final approval in three months, providing Crest Nicholson – through negotiations with officers and ward councillors – could address concerns through agreements and additional financial contributions.
Planning permission was granted on Tuesday, but it has transpired that the legal agreement did not include any extra contributions beyond the £11.2m infrastructure package offered in the draft agreement, and the negotiations were mainly around tightening up and clarifying the legal agreement.
A Swindon Council spokes-man said the concerns of ward councillors and residents were about having clarity through the legal agreement that essential infrastructure would be delivered as early as possible.
“This would absorb the pressures generated by the development, for example improved highway works on Oakhurst Way and Blunsdon Hill, and ensuring that the primary school was delivered at the earliest practicable opportunity.
He said conditions had been amended since the June committee report.
But the conditions simply relate to measures such as the developers adhering to specific construction hours and a construction management plan.
This would ensure that the mix of business in the local centre is balanced, and to require a detailed design code for the residential elements before approving the reserved matters.
But Steph Excell, the secretary of Oakhurst Residents’ Association, said: “It’s exactly what we predicted would be the outcome of this three months: that they’ve done nothing to protect Oakhurst Way.
“And our ward councillors are disgraceful. I would be embarrassed to be a ward councillor if I allowed this situation to happen to an area I represented.
“People are writing to us saying they will move out because they cannot get their kids into school, and they don’t want to put the lives of their own children at risk.”
Coun Vera Tomlinson (Con, St Andrews) said the ward councillors had done their best for residents.
She said: “If we had, on the night of the planning committee, gone down the route of turning the application down, it would have been a very short-lived victory .
“Crest Nicholson made it absolutely clear it would have gone in for appeal. And we would have lost because on planning grounds there was nothing there for us to turn it down on.”