Case for 1,000 houses in South Marston

The  information below was put together by Darren Cook, as a case for how 1,000 houses could be supported in South Marston. Do you agree / disagree? Put your views forward by leaving a comment below.

Government Policy/South West Regional Assembly/Eastern Development Area

An increasing population & the principle of sustainable development make it highly likely that new houses will be built around Swindon & South Marston is a prime target.  The 2007 Village Strategy accepted that natural growth might see another 250 houses but 1,000 are envisaged in the EDA proposals.

South Marston Supplementary Planning Document (SMSPD)

Swindon Borough Council has invited the village to contribute to the SMSPD.  The SMSPD area contains approximately 340 undeveloped acres, 240 of which are within the EDA.  We must decide whether to support 250 or 1,000 new houses or a figure in between at a minimum density of 35 houses/hectare.  We can use the SMSPD to either (a) minimise new housing for the present but leave the future uncertain, or (b) maximise the impact of the SMSPD by allowing sufficient houses now in return for significant community benefits & no more houses in the future:

(a) would see 250 houses built on 18 acres, insufficient revenue to fund improvements to the village (Pound Corner, flooding, school, community hall) & 222 to 322 acres left in the developers’ landbank for future development;

(b) would see 1,000 houses built on 72 acres, sufficient revenue for significant new infrastructure & community facilities & 268 undeveloped acres transferred to the Parish Council to ensure no future development.

How does Option B produce sufficient revenue to justify the benefits, including the transfer of 268 acres to the Parish Council?

The difficulty for the developers is that they are obliged to buy all optioned land (or none of it) at a minimum cost of £75k per acre.

1,000 new houses at an average sale price of £175,000 produces a gross return of £175 million (say, 25% net for the developers, £43.75m, in line with Barratt Homes 2008 figures).  The developers could afford to buy all 340 acres within the SMSPD at a cost of £36 million:

i.e. a market value of 40% (£70 million) of the gross return minus SBC S.106 payments (£12m), new village square will school & hall & new recreation ground (£12m), flood attenuation £2m, A420 strategic road contributions (£6 million) & professional fees (£2 million): net land cost £36 million, (£105k per acre, comfortably exceeding the minimum option price of £75k).

This would not be possible with only 250 houses (gross return £43.75m, 40% £17.5m, no village square etc, flood attenuation £1m, SBC S.106 payments £3m, A420 £1.5m, fees £1m, leaves £11m & makes it impossible to buy even the 240 acres within the EDA as the price per acre would reduce to £45k, less than the minimum guaranteed price of £75k).

500 houses (gross return £87.5m, 40% £35m, school improvements & village hall £2m, flood attenuation £1.5m, S.106 £6m, A420 £3m & fees £1.5m, leaves £21m for 280 acres at minimum £75k, insufficient to acquire all 340 acres & insufficient return for developers to transfer 245 acres free of charge).

963 houses for 272 acres of protected land:

  • One-fifth (c.68 acres) of the undeveloped land within the South Marston SPD to be developed & the remainder (c. 272 acres) to be acquired by the developers & transferred free of charge into public ownership (preferably the Parish Council) to protect it from future development;
  • The developed land to be developed at 35 dwellings per hectare, 963 in total, to create sufficient return for the developers to finance the public benefits.
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