A DEVELOPER admitted he would have “exactly the same concerns” as residents angry at a bid for 62-homes in Old Town

Steven Neal of developers Taylor Wimpey faced a barrage of questions from residents and councillors over the Ambrose Field development on Tuesday. 

One Linley Close resident hit out at the proximity of the new homes to hers – warning that they were “very, very intruded upon”. Mrs Hills said:

“All we ask is that they should be angled and not directly into our windows.”

Responding to the concerns – raised at a meeting of South Swindon Parish Council’s planning committee – Mr Neal admitted: “I do hear what you’re saying. I do understand your concerns. I’d probably have exactly the same concerns if I once had a view over an open field and it was going to be developed. 

“Unfortunately, the reality of it is that we do need to deliver more housing in Swindon. This scheme is obviously going to have an effect of some sort on the local residents surrounding it. But what we’re trying to do is minimise those as best we can.”

He said that the outline planning permission had “fixed” the layout of houses. However, he argued that the distance between the Linley Close homes and the new units was – at 35 metres – “over and above” that required by planning officers.

The Ambrose Field development has proved controversial. Last year, a petition opposing it attracted 1,000 signatures.

Despite concerns from residents and councillors, the 62-home development on land off Croft Road was granted outline planning permission by borough councillors in October. The reserved matters – like landscaping and the external appearance of houses – must now be considered by planning officers.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, Taylor Wimpey’s Steven Neal said they hoped to get all planning permissions in place by mid-summer – with work starting at the end of July.

Assuming their reserved matters are rubber-stamped by the council, they expect to start selling the houses from December. They expect to complete the development within two years. 

Mr Neal said: “We think there’s going to be a lot of interest from people. We’ve already taken a lot of details from people who are interested. 

“We don’t think there’s going to be a protracted construction phase. We think we’ll be on and off the site relatively quickly, hopefully leaving you with a nice development on the edge of Swindon.”

Members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on the “reserved matter” - like the appearance of the houses - when they are submitted to the borough council this month.

War of words erupts over delays

Frustrations over planning rules erupted at Tuesday’s parish council meeting.

Councillors hit out at developers, claiming that delays over the New Eastern Villages (NEV) development meant that land not allocated for housing in Swindon’s local plan was being built on.

Borough planning officers have failed to meet government targets for housing numbers – rendering the local plan “out of date”, in the words of Taylor Wimpey’s Steven Neal. 

He said: “The local plan is by definition of the national planning policy framework out of date. That is, it cannot demonstrate a housing land supply of five years.”

A furious Chris Watts, chairman of the parish council, said: “The reason we can’t meet our targets is because yourselves and Swindon Borough Council can’t get your act together to put houses on the bit of land we’ve allocated [NEV] and democratically agreed.”

However, Steven Neal hit back: “We are desperately trying to get planning permission because we want to build those houses. It serves us no benefit.”