SWINDON Council has unveiled its blueprint for 7,500 homes and an industrial park in the east of Swindon, part of the Eastern Villages plan.
Laying out the case for the development, which will be decades in the making, strategic planning chief Coun Peter Greenhalgh said: “There is a housing waiting list of 10,000 at the moment. We have to look where best these homes can go. It’s very easy to say: Not here. Not there. But where will they go? I try and look from a very detached perspective. We’re not looking around saying: let’s put homes here and annoy these people… This is a consultation exercise. This isn’t set in stone.”
He added that the council was trying not to make the same mistakes as in north Swindon, with its sprawling mass of housing and overloaded transport network.
But Gary Sumner, chairman of Wanborough Parish Council who called the meeting, hit back, saying: “I’m not against development. I think most of understand our children will want homes in the future. And the eastern development could be a great place to live. But only if they get it right. We need your help in making sure proper representations are made to Swindon Borough Council. If they are genuine in listening to your thoughts and opinions, then those arguments should be taken into account.”
The plans form part of the council’s grand blueprint for the town, called the Core Strategy.
There was criticism from the audience, as residents laid into the council for not having enough detail and problems coping with traffic. Fears were also voiced about the risk of flooding. And Swindon Council leader Rod Bluh (Con., Dorcan) was forced to admit that the council does not know how it would pay for massive upgrades needed for the road network.
“Can we afford the infrastructure? The honest answer is: I don’t know,” he said. “When we look at the scale of these developments, we can cost the total as best as we can at the time, but these don’t just appear out of the ground overnight. They are 10, 15, 20 year developments. We don’t know what the economy is going to be going forward.”
Speaking afterwards, residents expressed mixed feelings about the meeting, and Mr Sumner summed up the mood, saying: “This is not a case of ‘Not In My Back Yard’ – it’s about protecting east Swindon from the chaos that would ensue from inappropriate development.”
There will be similar meetings next week in Covingham and South Marston.
More will follow in late April and early May.
To view the plans and have your say, visit www.swindon.gov.uk/corestrategy.
To read the full article click here.
For further details of the Swindon Planning roadshow visit to South Marston on Tuesday 12th April, click here.