NOISY planes from Redlands Airfield could become a thing of the past over Wanborough as the council seeks to earmark the site for a housing development. But the solution still depends on the support of the owner.
The airfield, off Wanborough Road, is just outside Swindon’s settlement boundary, meaning homes cannot be built there.
But a proposal to move the boundary to include the site will be part of the council’s final version of Swindon’s Core Strategy, which sets out the vision for Swindon over the next 15 years.
This would allow Joe Smith, the owner of Redlands Farm, the site of the airfield, to have discussions with developers about selling the land for a small estate, which if approved, would mean the airfield would be closed.
Coun Dale Heenan , cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, said he came up with the idea to redesignate the land and described it as a potential game changer.
“We’re looking to change the Core Strategy to include Redlands Airfield as a potential site for a small housing development. This would allow the owners to sell their farm to a developer and potentially to retire and move on, for the developer to build some houses on the site and for the airfield to close down within the next couple of years.
“Once the council has made this decision, it’s for the Redlands owners and developers to come together and negotiate to come up with a proposal, but I’m sure many residents would be supportive of an application that came forward, as would I as a ward councillor.”
Coun Heenan (Con, Covingham and Dorcan) said he understood the owner had been approached by developers in the past, but discussions had been dropped over the settlement boundary issue.
He said the change would allow a hamlet of 50 to 100 homes — similar is size to Alexandra Park near Wroughton — to be built there, but emphasised that Wanborough would still be a separate village and there would still be a green buffer between Wanborough and Swindon.
He called on residents to comment on the proposal when the Core Strategy goes out to an eight-week public consultation in October — and also urged any interested developers to contact Redlands directly.
Coun Heenan said the airfield was a legitimate business and it would cost the council a minimum of between £2m and £3m in compensation to remove planning permission and shut it down, so opening up the land for development was a good compromise.
Mr Smith said: “We will give a comment when we know more but we have a thriving business and a success story for diversification. “We’ve really benefited from the airfield and that enables us to stay on the land. The income from the farm wouldn’t suffice on its own. And we enjoy the local support we do have.”
Margaret Greenwood, of Yonder Way, Wanborough, who is against the airfield, said she wanted Swindon Council to look into the case to revoke planning permission rather than redesignating the land.
She said: “People are living just 750 metres away from this airfield. Planes are going over their houses and rocking their houses.”
The Core Strategy is likely to come into force in April or May.