Swindon’s Expansion Strategy and South Marston

Swindon Borough Council’s planners are putting the finishing touches to a re-written Core Strategy that will set out the planned growth for the borough to 2026.

It is expected that growth projections will be significantly reduced from those imposed by the previous government’s plans and that the more expensive options for the Eastern Development Area will be shelved.

Villagers will recall that expansion of South Marston village was part of the previous draft Core Strategy and this has not altered. As before, the Parish Council were not consulted on this question.

What we have been consulted on are the terms of the development . I am pleased to say that the principle that the village should have a major say in the design of what is built has been incorporated into the draft Core Strategy.

This principle is founded on the relationship that the village has developed with the Borough Planners both on a personal level and, more importantly, the engagement in the process of you, the villagers.

It also ties in with David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ and the Localism Bill that the government published just before Christmas.

The draft Core Strategy is due to be presented to the Swindon Planning Committee on the 19th January. It will be viewable on the SBC website a week or so prior to this.

After acceptance by the SBC Planning Committee the finishing touches and any amendments will be incorporated in the draft for presentation to the SBC Cabinet in March and then it will be published for Public Consultation, whereafter the comments will be analysed and the draft amended, and in all probability go through another consultation process before being finally adopted some time in 2012.

All of which is screamingly tedious, particularly as this is the second time around!!!

The Core Strategy is the ‘mother’ document for our village plan, which therefore cannot get ahead of this timetable in terms of formal adoption. On the other hand, as previously reported, the developers who own and control the EDA land, to include that adjoining the village, have held a preliminary meeting with the SBC planners. If we step back from engagement we can expect to lose the position of influence that we currently enjoy.

One interesting possibility is this becoming a Vanguard Scheme under the Localism agenda. See the Neighbourhood Planning Vanguard website

Many uncertainties remain. We propose calling a full village meeting to review the apparent options for us to take the village design forward as soon as the draft Core Strategy becomes available.

Colin McEwen

Chair South Marston Parish Council

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One thought on “Swindon’s Expansion Strategy and South Marston”

  1. What of course the above synopsis of the current situation doesn’t say is that there have been a number of planning applications that have been granted on appeal where the Inspector has made it quite clear that planning authorities cannot use the Regional Spatial Strategy and associated plans to rule on applications themselves. Something SBC have been doing, and something SMPC have encouraged, certainly in relation to one application, which can only benefit the village. Now the RSS and EDA/Core strategy no longer exist the latter in it’s previous form, the excuse, is even less acceptable.

    As the synopsis quite rightly says several major developers are waiting to go, the thought of at least another years delay may well prompt them to go for planning, which is why the wait and see policy currently being adopted by SMPC could result in far more houses than approving small sustainable ones now.

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