Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Write to the Planning Inspectorate about the Coate development proposals

Swindon Borough Council has sent out notices of a planning appeal lodged by the Swindon Gateway Consortium (namely Redrow Homes and Persimmon Homes) asking the Secretary of State to make a decision about one of their applications to develop at Coate. A local planning inquiry will be held and you have an opportunity to have your say on the matter.

You must send 3 copies of your letter to the Bristol office by 4 November 2008. Below is a standard text that can be adapted and submitted.

The Planning Inspectorate
Room 4/04
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Temple Quay
Bristol BS1 6PN

Dear Sir or Madam

Appeal reference number: APP/U3935/A/08/2085605/NWF

Re: outline application for the provision of a university, houses, offices etc on land adjacent to Coate Water Country Park, the Marlborough Road, the A419 and M4 at Coate, Swindon Wilts.

I have already submitted an objection to the planning applications lodged by Persimmon Homes and Redrow Homes to build on one of Swindon's most precious and environmentally sensitive sites. I am one of the 50,000 people who signed a petition calling for a wide buffer of countryside to be retained around Coate Water. Never has a planning application in Swindon aroused so much passion against a building proposal.

I am a member of the Jefferies Land Conservation Trust whose goal is to protect the land under threat from development and to turn it into a nature reserve in order to enhance Coate Water Site of Special Scientific Interest and its wildlife interest, to protect the special landscape between Coate Water and the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and to preserve the literary and historic value of this pocket of countryside.

You may not be aware that Richard Jefferies was a pioneer ecologist and is best known for his nature writing. He lived at Coate, next to the proposed development area) and every inch of hedge, stream, ditch, field, tree, plant and animal and Coate Water was explored and recorded in his writing. In a poll in the Guardian in 2006, he was voted as Britain’s favourite countryside writer.

Despite Jefferies’ international following and his local importance, no attempt has been made to evaluate the environmental impact of the proposed development on the literary value of the land at any stage of the development plan or planning application process. So keen were Swindon Borough Council to let the University of Bath build a campus at Coate, that their assessment of Coate as a development area hid many of the great environmental features of the landscape.

The current Swindon Borough Local Plan 2011 policy DS3, relating to the land in question, is an enabling one adopted to facilitate the needs of the University of Bath who then pulled out of the Swindon Gateway Partnership early last year. This action was closely followed by the Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust, leaving only Persimmon Homes and Redrow Homes in the “partnership”. This position still holds – no new “partners” have come forward. Both the Panel who conducted the Examination in Public of the Wiltshire and Swindon Structure Plan 2016 and the Swindon Borough Local Plan 2011 Inspector were swayed to recommend that the site might be developed because of the University of Bath’s insistence that no other site at Swindon was acceptable to them.

I request that the Planning Inspectorate ensures that the scope of the planning inquiry is as far-reaching as possible. I believe that it was inappropriate to identify the area for mixed use development in the development plans and many of the criteria, on which sustainability of the site was based, are unsound.

Please keep me informed about progress on the planning application appeal and the local planning inquiry.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully