Advertiser – village residents invited to help shape future expansion

Swindon advertiser today ran an article regarding the village planning event scheduled today at South Marston Hotel:

PLANS which will change the face of South Marston forever were opened up to residents yesterday.

Locals were given a chance to have their say on a development which will mean the village being tripled in size.

An open event, which included a presentation and the chance to meet parish councillors, the developers and other key players. was held to give residents a say.

South Marston is one of the first places in Britain to take advantage of a new planning regime, under the Localism Act, giving it the chance to draw up a document about what developments local people want to see.

Parish councillor Barry Thunder, of South Marston Village Expansion Working Group, said: “Swindon Council’s core strategy as it relates to the eastern villages has a proposal for about 7,500 homes.

“It’s a fairly significant document affecting everyone from South Marston down to Wanborough and most of it will be going on green grass. Quite a bit of it will come into our village, about 500 of the new properties.

“This event is being held to give people a picture of how the village could look and also what villagers would like to see. Our primary objective is to protect the character of the village.”

The plans, which will form part of an outline planning application expected later this year, will mean the school being expanded or moved.

Most of South Marston is owned by two developers so the parish council has focused on informing rather than opposing the plans.

A questionnaire was handed out at the event at the Mercure hotel, which residents have been given until Friday to complete.

The views will be referred to as part of the process to draw up a planning document for the area which will underline Swindon Council’s core strategy.

The Localism Act, which became law in April, is intended to give communities a greater say in planning issues and allow them to form neighbourhood panels.

Parish councillor Colin McEwen, also on the working group, said: “Under the Localism Act developers are obliged to consult with the community when applying for permission for major developments and the community can prepare neighbourhood plans provided they comply with the local plan that the borough council has prepared.

Some years ago it was clear both developers owned or controlled most of the land to the south of the village and that Swindon’s Local Plan meant that they would be given permission to develop. Given this, the parish council set up a working party to look into how it could best influence what was to be built.

This event, which has been put on with the assistance of Swindon Council officers, is the culmination of that work.”

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