Overturning Councillors decision to refuse planning could be a “travesty” for Coate
In June, the Planning Committee refused planning permission for 890 houses and a business park near Coate Water Country Park – “the Coate/Commonhead application”. Last month the developers decided to ask the Bristol based Planning Inspector to look at overturning this decision and a public enquiry has been set for November. I am Chairman of the Planning Committee, and 2011 is certainly proving to be quite the controversial year!
At the public inquiry, the inspector will listen to all the arguments before making a ruling. This ruling could support the decision of Councillors on the Planning Committee, or the Inspector could decide overturn our decision and grant planning permission.
Swindon Borough Council will be using a lawyer who specialises in these planning appeals to defend the case, but local residents and Councillors are welcome to submit their own letters.
I have sent the following letter to the Planning Inspector raising my key concerns about the application as a local Councillor for Covingham and Nythe, and these mainly focus on the impact to Coate Water Country Park.
To have your say, quote reference number APP/U3935/A/11/2155834 and write to Mr E Grace, Planning Inspector, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay Bristol, BS1 6NP by the 23rd September.
Cllr Dale Heenan Ref: APP/U3935/A/11/2155834/NWF 10 Swan Close Swindon SN3 4QB Dear E Grace, The Swindon Gateway Partnership has appealed against a refusal decision of the Swindon Borough Council Planning Committee on application, S/10/0842/IH, and I would like to make this representation as a Councillor acting on behalf of the local residents who have contacted me about this decision. 1) Swindon Borough Council’s Core Strategy is only at the stage of being a consultation draft document. The consultation was completed shortly after the application decision, and the responses are being considered. The proposed development is of a substantial scale and its consideration is premature before the examination in public, and adoption of the Core Strategy. If permission is granted for this development of 890 houses then it will prejudice the outcome of the Core Strategy process by predetermining decisions about the appropriateness of the location, the scale and phasing of new development within the town. 2) The proposed development would take place within 300m of Coate Water Country Park, and users of the park will have a visual barrier to the views of the North Wessex Downs, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This encroachment by housing will change the rural nature of the park and have a material impact on amenity. The area is widely regarded as one of Swindons greatest assets and this character must be preserved. 3) Some of the buildings will be three and four storeys in height and this will be out of character for the area. The housing will be on the edge of Swindon and sit between a country park and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This rural setting must be maintained, and the existing planning application does not sufficiently address the scale and location of the housing and the other mixed development uses. 4) If you are minded to overturn the decision of the Planning Committee and grant permission for this development, then the land between the development and Country Water Country park must be protected for future generations to enjoy. Anything less would be a travesty for Swindon. While the revised s106 agreement from June 2011 may go some way to mitigating further encroachment on Coate Water Country Park, anything less will have a significant impact on the local area, and the proposed development could not be described as “sustainable development” in any meaningful way. I hope that you take these comments into account during the inquiry that is due to start on Tuesday 15th November. Kind regards Cllr Dale Heenan