Wednesday, December 30, 2009

House builders' exhibition 7 January

Redrow Homes and Persimmon Homes, the developers behind the Coate development proposals, are holding an exhibition of their new plans for the Coate/Badbury Wick/Commonhead area before submitting a new planning application to Swindon Borough Council.

The exhibition is open to the public on Thursday 7 January between 1-7pm at Park South Community Centre, Cranmore Avenue, Swindon SN3 2EE.

Go along and see what ghastly offering is now proposed in the name of progress.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Planning application turned down by Secretary of State

Not just good news but fantastic news!

On 6 August John Denham, the Secretary of State for Communities, announced that he supported the planning inspector’s decision that planning permission should be refused for 1800 houses, employment land, university campus etc. at Coate. Unlike Swindon Borough Council who did not fight the appeal on the grounds that the views from Coate Water would be unacceptable if the building work was allowed, the Inspector and John Denham did not accept this. John Denham says: “the proposed form of development would seriously damage the views from the east and west shores of the Country Park, with corresponding harm to the enjoyment of visitors. In particular, he agrees with the Inspector that the effect of residential development, even if limited to two storeys, would be unacceptably intrusive and harmful to the experience of the Country Park.”


However Swindon Borough Council is still pressing ahead with proposals for a smaller development east of Day House Lane. (see the previous posting).

All the documentation is available at the council offices in Station Road or it can be downloaded here:

The development area includes fields of significant archaeological importance and encloses Day House Copse, a local nature reserve. There is still no over-riding policy proposed that would secure the protection of the proposed buffer around Coate Water – the land needs to be designated as high landscape by virtue of its historic, literary & amenity value. Please object to the inclusion of Policy SSP7 in the Swindon Core Strategy.

Say that the Core Strategy is not legally compliant as SBC has ignored the advice in the Government White Paper “Communities in Control: Real Power, Real People” (9 July 2008). There is no point going through two previous consultation exercises in preparation of the strategy and then ignoring the majority view with regard to developing the Coate area. Over 52,000 have lodged an objection - their views have been ignored.

Say that it is not an effective policy – the area is remote from the main urban area of Swindon and cannot be integrated with the town. More land needs to be set aside for hospital expansion to meet the health needs of a growing town.

Say it is not consistent with national policy – delivering sustainable development (PPS1) – by virtue of the fact that the potential damage to ecology, to an important literary landscape, to significant archaeological features, to strategic views from the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty & Coate Water Country Park, to Coate Water Site of Special Scientific Interest and Day House Copse Local nature Reserve cannot be secured. Setting these significant features in a modern estate is a sacrilege. Moreover no mention is made of preventing pollution from the landfill area proposed for development whilst Richard Jefferies is not mentioned. The proposal is inconsistent with SBC’s former commitment to protect this area from inappropriate development once the Great Western Hospital was built.

Say that the policy is not justified (plenty of alternatives exist to develop housing and employment land to meet government targets for Swindon) – the land is more important to Swindon’s future as an area of rural recreation and of high landscape value.

In the what changes section, simply state that Policy SSP7 should be deleted as you have no confidence that views will be “respected” from Coate Water & the North Wessex Downs AONB (SSP7 x), that archaeological features will be protected if surrounded by a modern estate (SSP7 viii) that a “functional and robust buffer between Coate Water Country Park and the new development” (SSP ix) will be created as the land-use has not been designated under other policies and that no recognition is made of the need to assess the environmental impact of the development on the literary value and merits of Jefferies Land.

You have until 21st Septmeber to send in your views to SBC.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Swindon Council push ahead with their plans to develop Coate

Although government is, as yet, to announce its decision about the planning application for development between Coate Water and the A419 Trunk road (the deadline set is 6 August), Swindon Borough Council is still pushing forward with its Core Strategy to permit 750 houses, 15 hectares of employment premises and shops to be built there.

In a document that is likely to be approved by Cabinet at its meeting on 10 June, a new policy for building at “Commonhead” is proposed. Whilst it calls for the creation of “a functional and robust buffer between Coate Water Country Park and new development”, we ask what has happened to the other “robust buffer” promised when the hospital was given the go ahead and the “no houses” promise, if no university materialises?

How can we believe that the land between Coate Water and the new development will be protected in perpetuity when the Council constantly changes its mind?

Councils have a duty to “inform, consult and engage” local communities in everything they do. So why aren’t they listening to the opinion of over 50,000 people who object to the scheme?


This is what the new proposed policy says:

SSP7: Commonhead

Swindon Borough Core Strategy (Proposed Submission Document)

1. Provision will be made for a mixed-use urban extension of 750
dwellings to the north and east of Day House Lane at Commonhead. Development
proposals at this site must:

a) Make provision for the equivalent of 1 primary school or 2 Forms of
Entry, and

b) Make appropriate contributions towards the delivery of new secondary
school facilities, and

c) Provide around 15 hectares of employment land, and

d) Safeguard around 5.5 hectares of land for future expansion of the Great
Western Hospital, and

e) Provide sustainable transport links to the existing urban area and
Swindon town centre, and

f) Provide a neighbourhood centre including retail facilities appropriate to
meet local need, and

g) Provide an appropriate scale and range of formal and informal sport,
leisure and recreation areas in accordance with policy , and

h) Protect and mitigate the impact of development upon archaeological
features, and

i) Create a functional and robust buffer between Coate Water Country Park
and new development, and

j) Respect views from the North Wessex Downs AONB and from Coate Water
Country Park minimising the impact on the landscape character of the area.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Decision on or by 6 August

The Secretary of State will issue her decision on the planning appeal for the
Coate planning applications on or before 6 August 2009.

Let's hope that it will be a time of celebration.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ancient stones unearthed at Coate could be part of Swindon’s Neolithic history


Ancient stones unearthed at Coate could be part of Swindon’s Neolithic history

The Jefferies Land Conservation Trust has expressed grave concerns that a Neolithic site dating back some 4,000 years will lose its potential historic and tourist value if the Coate development is permitted.

A recent discovery of two sarsen stones opposite Day House farm, has aroused speculation that many of the lost stones of ritual value still lie buried in the ground, undiscovered. Apparently these two stones were uncovered a week ago whilst digging a ditch alongside Day House Lane.

In 1894, A D Passmore, a local antiquarian recorded in his notebooks [1] two stone circles on Day House Farm that appeared to link to one another by a line of sarsens as well as four more stone circles nearby.

Only one of the six stone circles, opposite Day House Farm, is known today and protected by law albeit that many of the stones in this circle have also been destroyed. The sarsens are almost totally buried in the field but Passmore noted that the stones varied between 6-12 foot in length and the same in width.

Richard Jefferies, the Victorian nature writer born at Coate, also wrote about these stones in the Wiltshire Herald in 1867-8. [1]

Passmore found the remains of another stone circle on Day House Farm a quarter of a mile south-west of the first; he spotted another in the floor of Coate Water, and others at Hodson, Broome and in Burderop Woods.

The most widely accepted theory as to the purpose of Stone Circles is that they are connected with the worship of the Sun and Moon.

Speaking on behalf of the Jefferies Land Conservation Trust, Jean Saunders said:

“Whilst not on the scale of Avebury, it is so exciting to know that Coate is steeped in similar pre-history. We know of a Bronze Age settlement just south of Coate Water, two round barrows opposite Richard Jefferies’ old house at Coate, two stone circles on Day House Farm and lines of stones linking these together with others. It would be criminal to surround these ancient relics of the past with modern buildings. Who knows how many more of these old stones of great spiritual value lie undiscovered? Can Swindon afford to lose more of its history?”


Editor’s notes

1. Extracts from Passmore’s notebooks were recorded in the Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Magazine 2004.

2. Richard Jefferies (1849-1887) started his working life as a journalist on local papers. In the Wiltshire Herald Jefferies reported:

‘The road from Coate makes a wide semi-circle round to Chisledon. Day-house Lane cuts off the angle, and was formerly much used, until the road was widened and macadamised. There may be seen on the left side of Day-house Lane, exactly opposite the entrance to a pen on Day-house Farm, five Sarsden stones, much sunk in the ground, but forming a semi-circle of which the lane is the base­line or tangent. There was a sixth upon the edge of the lane, but it was blown up and removed, in order to make the road more serviceable, a few years ago. Whether this was or was not one of those circles known as Druidical, cannot now be determined, but it wears that appearance. It would seem that the modern lane had cut right through the circle, destroying all vestige of one half of it. In the next field, known as the Plain, lies, near the footpath across the fields to Chisledon, another Sarsden of enormous size, with two smaller satellites of the same stone close by. If the semi-circle, just spoken of was a work of the Druids, or of the description known as Druidical, which some think a very different thing, it may be just possible that these detached stones in the Plain had some connection with it.’

For more information contact Jefferies Land Conservation Trust

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Write to the Secretary of State

The Planning Inquiry is now over and we can only await the Planning Inspector's report and his recommendations for the Secretary of State. The report is likely to appear in 7-12 weeks time. The decision will then rest with Hazel Blears. It is believed that she can take as long as she likes to make a decision as to whether planning permission should be granted for the Coate development proposals.

It would be helpful if the general public write to Ms Blears in an attempt to persuade her that the potential loss of this jewel in Swindon's crown (and give your reasons why you think that this is so) is too big a price to pay for some remote and unrealistic chance that Swindon might gain a university presence. If you heard the loopholes in the conditions that were proposed by the developers for handing over land to a university, you can be assured of one thing - we will get another housing estate and office blocks to gaze upon from Coate Water and from Liddington Hill should planning permission be granted, whilst pigs-might-fly with regard to a hospital extension or university campus. If the University of Bath could not make a go of the offer from the developers, why should the University of the West of England believe that they can do better?

So it is now time to put pen to paper again and write to:

Hazel Blears
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Eland House
Bressenden Place
London SW1E 5DU

E-mail address:

Do make it clear in your letter that you are referring to:

Appeal Refs: A/08/2085605 and 2090316
Land adjacent to Coate Water Country Park, Swindon