Homes site polluted

Back in December 2018 Swindon Borough Council Planners ruled that Swindon’s Newburn Sidings ‘oasis of wildlife’ which had been earmarked for a possible 400 home development, did not require an environmental impact assessment before a planning application could be made. The Council subsequently informed ‘One Swindon Limited’ who is behind current planning proposal for the site that it would ‘not give rise to unusually complex or significant environmental effects that would warrant an EIA, considering that the site is previously developed land and that no development would be within the flood plain’.

How odd it is therefore that One Swindon Limited commissioned the services of a developer who did just that and conducted an EIA in the July of 2018 with the designated number S/EIA/18/1141. Could this of course be due to the fact that there had been three previous attempts to submit plans by potential developers that were unsuccessful, and was this an attempt at mitigating previous findings at the site that clearly rejected it as being suitable for a 400 housing and flats development.

Findings were that the top manmade layer at the site is polluted with above the benchmark levels of arsenic, Lead, hydrocarbons and other heavy metals and worst still deadly asbestos fibres, due to many years of railway workshop activity.

If this top manmade layer is disturbed then the danger to local residents of Dean Street and the surrounding area is clearly evident from asbestos being released in to the air, along with the possibility of arsenic entering the water course and the adjacent river Ray, to name just two of the potential unacceptable risks.

The Swindon Borough Council commissioned 2019 SHELAA report clearly states in its tabular listing of rejected sites Newburn Sidings as being suitable ones for development and I quote: "Site is within the Swindon Urban Boundary and Central Area Action Plan Area. Site is of low susceptibility to surface water flooding, but adjoins an area of Flood Zone 2 & 3. Site may be contaminated due to historic land use. Site is made up ground within 10 m of the operational railway and residential properties along Dean Street and development would likely lead to a poor standard of amenity for occupiers of the site and residents of Dean Street. Part of the site is of ecological interest with badgers and slow worms known to be present. Access to the site does not appear possible due to the gradients at the South Western and North Eastern parts of the site adjacent to Wootton Bassett Road and Rodbourne Road respectively. The site is not considered as suitable for development due to the numerous constraints that apply, however it is being promoted by the government landowner Homes England for 400 No. dwellings." Since the commissioning of the SHELAA report the island strip of land has been found to have Red deer, otters, badgers, foxes, bats, Kingfishers, blue jays, and egrets.

Finally the site is envisaged to have a single traffic light controlled point of ingress and egress opposite Red posts from Wootton Bassett Road, however the potential developer Turley as commissioned by One Swindon Limited does not have any report from SBC Highways on the impact that this would be likely to have on the immediate road systems in the area and is stating that all will become clear after the formal plans are submitted. This surely shows that this essential part as the proposed development is an afterthought and there is an attempt by them to just push it through regardless, and what of the 800 potential extra motor vehicles adding to traffic in Wootton Bassett Road and hence Kingshill which holds the record as having the most polluted air in the South West of England.

Graham Woodward

Nelson Street


Help with history

We are researching the latter years - 1970 onwards- of the Garrard Engineering Company and if anyone has any information could they please contact us.

MJ Robins

Glebe Farm

Lower Stanton St Quintin