SWINDON Council has set out its final vision for the development of the borough until 2026 – including where to put 22,000 extra homes.
The local plan 2026 will be the new overarching planning document, which will guide the decisions of the planning committee and officers, and sets out a number of general policies, as well as specific locations for residential and employment uses.
The plan is set to be approved by cabinet tonight and will go out to an eight-week official public consultation if backed by full council next month, but the authority says any early comments will be formally taken into consideration.
The council says that to maintain housing growth in line with economic and demographic forecasts and to prevent unwanted development on greenfield land, the council expects, based on past experience, that an average of 1,150 homes will be built annually until 2026, giving the total figure of 22,000.
The final version allocates about 6,000 homes at the Eastern Villages development to the east of the A419 – down from 7,500 in the last draft.
That includes 4,064 homes at Wichelstowe – the same number as before – about 3,500 as infill in Swindon’s existing urban area, and 640 for the expansion of South Marston.
There are 1,000 homes allocated in Swindon’s central area – mostly in the Union Square development – 1,500 allocated for Rowborough, a possible development on farmland north of the A420, and about 1,650 on farmland west of the A419 at Kingsdown, a new site in this version of the plan.
There is also allocation for 1,695 homes at Tadpole Farm, 890 at Coate, and 589 in the Northern Development Area, which already have planning permission, as well as provision for a handful of extra homes as either infill or small extensions at Highworth, Wroughton, and other villages.
Coun Dale Heenan, cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, said Kingsdown was identified as a possible site for housing in the strategic housing land availability assessment and was included in the final draft due to the reduction of homes in the Eastern Villages to make room for employment land.
“Kingsdown has been added in since the last draft because we’ve reduced housing elsewhere and if we’re still doing growth in Swindon at one per cent per year, we still need to put it somewhere,” he said. “And if it’s not that site, there are no other sites around.”
The council has also written a joint policy for all possible developments in East Swindon, ensuring that developers must contribute upfront to the overall infrastructure in the sector to ensure it can start as soon as possible.
Coun Heenan said West Swindon was not allocated for any further development as there is no suitable land and the road infrastructure could not cope with more homes even if there were. However, he said the route of the Purton-Iffley relief road was protected in the plan and the council would continue to lobby Government for the funding.
To provide for business growth and investment, the plan allocates 77.5 hectares of employment land, together with 90,000m2 of town centre office space at Union Square, in addition to 43 hectares of employment land already with permissions. This is based on an increase of 19,600 jobs in Swindon over the next 15 years.
The amount of employment space has roughly doubled since the last draft, with the biggest growth at the Eastern Villages where there would be 40 hectares providing enough room for possibly two corporate HQs, a business park, and some small warehouses.