Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Open letter to the Prime Minister

Dear David Cameron

I write as the Honorary Secretary of two charities: the Richard Jefferies Society and the Jefferies Land Conservation Trust.
You were interviewed on Countryfile by John Craven and you gave an assurance that no greenfield land would be built on where the following applied:

1. Special interest – historic, landscape, cultural

2. Local people opposed

3. Local authority opposed

4. Other sites available

You are obviously not aware of building proposals that were granted permission earlier this year by your Secretary of State for a development that ticked all these requirements. These apply to a planned housing estate and industrial site at Coate and Badbury Wick that lies in the foothills of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to the south east of Swindon and very close to Coate Water Site of Special Scientific Interest. The area is rich in ecology, archaeology, and was immortalised and made famous by the Victorian nature writer, Richard Jefferies whose birthplace abuts the development site and is now a museum. The planning application was opposed by over 52,000 people who signed a petition, Robert Buckland MP and the conservative led planning committee. Other sites are available to meet Swindon’s 5 year land supply of housing depending on what targets are agreed.

On page 32 of the Church Times (14 December 2012) there is an interview with Candida Lycett Green – author, broadcaster, journalist and Sir John Betjeman’s daughter. The questions asked of her cover a considerable amount of ground but her clear passion for the Downs near to where she lives at Uffington, Oxfordshire and her love of old buildings and England’s countryside reveal how she follows in her father’s footsteps. In response to changing one thing in England, Ms Lycett Green said that she would “stop the present Government making a balls-up of the planning system ... They will be the Government to go down in history as wrecking England”. And her anger is directed at “greedy developers’ building on Richard Jefferies’s sacred Greenfield landscape outside Swindon”.   There is also an article by Candida Lycett Green in the January 2013 edition of the Countryfile magazine. She writes a heartfelt plea about what has happened to Swindon, and in particular how no one has taken any notice of the Richard Jefferies Society regarding development on Jefferies Land at Coate. She states that David Cameron says that he will defend his beautiful part of Oxfordshire against the builders, and then she compares this to the fate of Swindon (her nearest big town), where countless developments have covered the town, and in spite of many in-fill sites available how Redrow Homes are set to build on the only decent historical/literary area of land in the town at Coate.

I realise that you are powerless to reverse a planning decision and your Secretary of State has not made an unlawful decision. However, the decision is wrong and has created bitter resentment in Swindon, not to say total disillusionment with your government’s commitment to protect important greenfield sites whilst bringing in a National Planning Policy Framework that makes it easier to build anywhere.

 We are now faced with a draft Swindon Borough Local Plan 2026 that has a policy in place that permits the planned development at Coate whilst providing a non-development buffer for some of the countryside of landscape, ecological, archaeological and cultural importance. However the building plans will set a precedent for more infill and the plan only runs to 2026 – just time for Redrow Homes and Persimmon Homes to lobby for infill development on the grounds that it will be more sustainable to build next to their existing estate.  

 There are many thousands of people who will never forgive this government for what has happened at Coate.
Yours sincerely
Jean Saunders

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Great white egret at Coate Water

Great White Egret by Tony Martin on 15 December 2012

A Great White Egret has been spotted at Coate Water Site of Special Scientific Interest over the last few days. It is a very rare visitor to Wiltshire and a very exciting spot.

English Nature will add the bird to its list for Coate Water SSSI.

How sad that Redrow Homes and Persimmon Homes have planning permission to build nearly 900 houses and a massive business park very close to the nature reserve.  Indeed it is a tragedy.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

latest draft planning policy proposed for Coate & Badbury Wick

A draft Swindon Borough Local Plan 2026 is likely to go out for public consultation in December 2012 for an 8 week period. The Local Plan is the bible for developers and the blue-print of how Swindon will be expected to develop from 2011-2026 albeit that Swidon Council has already overestimated how may new houses will be built.

This is the policy relating to the Coate area and please note that there is no proposed protected buffer of land next to the south of Coate Water Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Friday, March 23, 2012

proposed design of development

We may not have the most up-to-date drawings of what Redrow Homes and Persimmon Homes propose to build, but these were the illustrations that accompanied their original 2010 planning application:

Coate style houses

Badbury Wick style

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Developers win the appeal

The Secretary of State has issued his decision about the Coate Appeal and the bad news is that we have lost. Planning permission has been granted and you can read the full report here:

The blame lies totally with Swindon Council who have pushed the Coate area forward for housing development and business/industrial use through the Local Plan and the emerging Core Strategy.  We have been stuffed by them and don't you forget it.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Mike Bawden _ candidate to represent Coate

With the May Borough Council elections looming in Swindon, you may not be aware that Coate is now included in the new Chiseldon & Lawn ward. To add insult to injury, Mike Bawden will be standing as one of the Conservative candidates for the ward. The man who promoted Coate for development and boasted about brokering a deal between the developers and the University of Bath in 2003 is now more than likely to represent the Ward. Here’s the article in the Guardian to refresh your memory.
Let us hope that he is blown up by his own bomb.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Please write to Eric Pickles MP

The Secretary of State will be making his decision known about the Coate planning appeal on of before 3 April 2012. Please write to him now. Email: Sample letter:

Rt Hon Eric Pickles
Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government
Eland House
Bressenden Place
London SW1E 5DU

Dear Mr Pickles

Re: Planning Appeal No: APP/U3935/A/11/2155834      
Land at Dayhouse Lane, Coate, Swindon.

Your planning inspector, Geoffrey Hill, will be completing his report of the Planning Inquiry held in November 2011. I support Swindon Borough Council's reasons to refuse planning permission for building on the appeal site and hope that you will too. The countryside at Coate and Badbury Wick is greatly valued and significant for many reasons that include the following:
- the landscape setting of Coate Water Country Park and Site of Special Scientific Interest
- the views from Liddington Hill and the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- the recreational value of Dayhouse Lane (a peaceful country lane) for walkers, cyclists, horse-riders and joggers who use it as a gateway to the downs
- the inherent wildlife importance of Dayhouse Copse, ancient trees, hedges, bat roosts, badger setts and otter streams
- the literary associations of internationally renowned Richard Jefferies
- the archaeological quality of the area that dates back to pre-history
- the agricultural quality of the land - 22% is grade 2/3a, best and most versatile farmland
- the views from the Great Western Hospital that help aid recovery.
Over 52,000 people signed  a petition asking Swindon Council to protect this prized
corner of Swindon. The environmental, historic and literary value of the appeal site far outweighs any benefits that more housing, offices and industrial units can offer. The planning application provides nothing special. It is not a sustainable development, it is premature and will set a precedent for infill development around Coate Water Country Park.
Please dismiss the appeal lodged by Swindon Gateway Partnership.
Thank you.

Yours sincerely