Sunday, June 13, 2010

Save Coate again!

The Jefferies Land Conservation Trust takes heart from the news released on 4 June that the Rt Hon Eric Pickles (Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) has written to all councils to let them know that they can make planning decisions in the knowledge that ‘regional strategies’ will soon be history. The Minister is quoted as saying:

“It will no longer be possible to concrete over large swathes of the country without any regard to what local people want.”

Over 52,000 people, who signed the Save Coate petition, made it clear that the land between Coate Water and the new hospital should not be concreted over. The people have already decided.

After promises from Swindon Council that this land would be protected from development if the hospital got the go-ahead and, more recently, that if the university plans failed at Coate, there would be no houses, we are now faced with a new planning application (see overleaf) for nearly one thousand houses, offices and shops on the fields located mainly east of Day House Lane. The majority of the buildings proposed are 3-4 storeys high. They won’t sit quietly in the countryside without sticking out like a sore thumb; the hospital is already a blot on the views from Richard Jefferies’ beloved Liddington Hill and Coate Water that are immortalised in his writing.

Whilst the new proposals, unlike the last ones, do not extend to the edge of Coate Water Country Park, it won’t be long before Redrow Homes and Persimmon Homes apply to build on these fields too. If this site falls to the house-builders, it will set a precedent for more of the same.

We can’t trust the Council to safeguard the fields next to Coate Water no matter what they promise.

Please help to preserve Swindon’s best literary and historical heritage and to ensure that Coate Water remains a country park for wildlife and people by writing now to Ian Halsall, Planning Officer, Swindon Borough Council, Wat Tyler House, Beckhampton Street, Swindon SN1 2JH and object to planning application S/10/0842.

Friday, June 04, 2010

New building plans for Coate

Some news to report, at last – but you will have to wait until next week (Monday?) for confirmation – and it is not going to be good news. Redrow Homes and Persimmon Homes have submitted their new planning application to Swindon Borough Council for nearly 1,000 houses etc. at Coate/Badbury Wick. Assume that it will be the same as that proposed at the developers’ exhibition held earlier this year (see previous blog) and will take in land mainly east of Day House Lane.

There has been no response from the Horton family (owners of Day House Farm) with regard to our (Jefferies Land Conservation Trust) offer to buy their large field that hugs the eastern edge of Coate Water Country Park and extends to Day House lane. The Trust want to put the field to conservation use – a wildflower meadow – and Richard Jefferies’ fans will be aware that this field included names such as “Green Fern” and “The Plain” which featured in Greene Ferne Farm and Bevis. Redrow Homes has an option to buy this field from the Hortons if planning permission is granted for development. Okay, so this field might not be included in the new proposals, but development east of Day House lane will set a precedent for more development across the road. This field is not protected from development apart from small areas of it that are of significant archaeological interest. Swindon Borough Council would like this field to be included in Coate Water Country Park, but neither the Hortons nor the developers are going to hand it over!

The emerging Swindon Core Strategy (that includes a draft land-use policy for the proposed development area for 750 houses etc) is on hold. Local Planning Authorities throughout the country are not sure how to progress their forward planning programmes as the new Government has vowed to get rid of the regional tiers for planning. The so-called Regional Spatial Strategy that was setting house-building targets to 2025 is also frozen which means that developers are likely to submit a flurry of planning applications in the hope that they can force through their particular building programmes.

Swindon is likely to be hit badly by this as different developers are targeting greenfield sites all around the town as you may have read in the papers.

It is vital that everyone objects again to the new planning application for Coate – previous objections will not count. The Save Coate petition with its 52,000 signatures will still add weight as it was worded to take account of future building programmes for the area.

Watch this space for more news.