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.