Call for cohesion over Eastern Villages plan
Updated 9:50am Saturday 19th July 2014 in By Dominic Gilbert
LANDOWNERS around the Eastern Villages site are urging developers to get around the table and set in place proper infrastructure before putting in independent planning applications.
The Eastern development was a critical topic in the discussions around the Swindon Local Plan, which is due to be concluded in September, and landowners want any new applications to hold off until a proper masterplan for the site can be drawn up.
Proposals for 2,600 homes at Lotmead Farm, which would see the creation of two new villages, will go on show to the public next week.
But interested parties want to engage with all developers to agree on common strategy rather than risk a disjointed development springing up.
Jeremy Francis, chief executive of Capital Land, represents more than half of the landowners on a 450 acre sector of the site.
“What we are trying to do is to put forward our take because we have got a blank canvas here that can be drawn on,” he said. “We are working with other interested parties and putting forward what we think is a comprehensive scheme.
“We have a number of interested developers each with their own interests being put to the fore. We believe that unless there is a comprehensive scheme, the needs of the borough will not be met. We have been identified as the key access point for the majority of the site without which none of the site can be properly planned through. While we are engaging with the borough I find individual stakeholders are cherry picking schemes for their own ends.
“A year ago there was very little action on this site with only a couple of stakeholders involved. There needs to be a pause for thought now while the infrastructure is sorted out.
“Commercial priorities to get something off the ground is driving something that is ad-hoc. Four of us, including Hallam Land, Ainscough and Gleesons, control the whole of the site apart from a few peripheral blocks. We have tried to engage with other developers but we are finding that very difficult.”
Gary Sumner, chairman of Wanborough parish council, said the recent proposals from Ainscough would be premature and need consideration.
“It is a very poorly informed plan at this stage and very premature,” he said. “They are putting forward a presentation on a site that they currently cannot develop because they do not have approval from owners of adjoining land for access points.
“We appreciate that Swindon needs to grow, but our concern is that we need to get the proper infrastructure there. This premature application would have no access to a nearby school because that would come in a lot later in the plan.
“The local plan examination will have concluded in September, and we should wait until then. All of these sites need to be talking to each other.”
Paul Martin, the managing director at Ainscough, said: “The development of the Eastern Villages is very important in enabling the future growth and prosperity of Swindon.
“It is of utmost importance to us that we start talking with the local community as early on as possible and that our proposals, which are yet to be finalised, reflect their wishes and needs as closely as possible.
“We are keen to continue this dialogue throughout the preparations leading to the submission of the planning application.”
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