East Swindon to have most new homes in local plan
EAST Swindon is earmarked in the local plan for more development than any other sector of Swindon, with space allocated for nearly 10,000 new homes and 40 hectares of employment land.
The local plan 2026 will be the new overarching planning document. It will guide the decisions of the planning committee and officers and sets out a number of general policies, as well as specific locations for residential and employment uses.
Across the borough, the document allocates space for 22,000 new homes and 77.5 hectares of new employment land, which the council says is necessary to maintain housing growth in line with economic and demographic forecasts, prevent unwanted development on greenfield land and provide for business growth.
East Swindon, which has seen relatively little development over the past 30 years, will take the brunt of development, with allocation for a total of 9,790 homes across four strategic sites and 40 hectares of extra employment space at the Eastern Villages development.
The Eastern Villages, on farmland to the east of the A419 and south of the A420, comprises about 6,000 homes across a series of distinct villages, plus a district centre and sports and leisure facilities.
The council has nearly doubled the amount of employment land at the Eastern Villages to provide enough room for possibly two corporate headquarters, a business park and some small warehouses.
The settlement boundary has been moved to include Redlands Airfield, which would allow Joe Smith, owner of Redlands Farm, to hold discussions with developers about selling the land for a small estate. If approved, it would mean the airfield could be closed.
The council has also written a joint policy for all possible developments in East Swindon, ensuring that developers must contribute upfront to the overall infrastructure in the sector to ensure it can start as soon as possible.
There is also new provision for a new relief road between the Eastern Villages and Commonhead. Coun Dale Heenan, the cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, said: “The most important aspect of the east is infrastructure and ensuring that the roads and schools are provided upfront by developers. The local plan is explicit in demanding that developers pay their fair share to infrastructure. If they don’t, they won’t get planning permission.”
Across the former Eastern Development Area, the number of homes has increased by about 500 since the last draft plan due to: increased density of housing at Rowborough; a possible development on farmland north of the A420, where about 1,500 homes are allocated; and the Eastern Villages.
The plan also allocates about 640 homes at South Marston and about 1,650 on farmland west of the A419 at Kingsdown, a new site in this version of the plan, which was identified as a possible site for housing in the strategic housing land availability assessment.
Coun Heenan said: “Kingsdown has been added in since the last draft because we’ve reduced housing elsewhere and if we’re still doing growth in Swindon at one per cent per year, we still need to put it somewhere. And if it’s not that site, there are no other sites around.”