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.

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