Over a 100 responses were sent to the Borough, particularly pointing out the loss of amenities to the village. The Parish Council’s response is set out below:
Dear Mr Snook,
Following our Parish Council meeting last night, please find below the response of the South Marston Parish Council to the recent application relating to the demolition of existing hotel buildings and redevelopment to provide up to 72no. dwellings and associated ancillary works at South Marston (Mercure) Hotel.
Having reviewed the application and taken on board comments from our parishioners, the Parish Council object to this application.
The reasons for this are:
- Loss of amenities. The impact of the loss of amenities has not been addressed by the application and will have a significant effect on the village and its residents. The amenities that will be lost include swimming pool, gymnasium, squash courts, coffee shop, meeting facilities and school event facilities. Concerns about the impact are supported by the volume of comments on the borough planning website from residents and those that use the amenities.
- Inadequate drainage and utilities infrastructure. Please see the attached report which provides evidence that surface water flood risk has not been adequately addressed to comply with Local Plan Policy EN6 and South Marston Neighbourhood Plan Policy NP13. In addition, the village sewerage system needs updating and its capacity increased before any further development can take place upstream of the Nightingale pumping station. The Parish Council would require this infrastructure in place before any building work is begun.
- The quantum of housing is too great to allow good design on the site. The housing density, although compatible with Policy RA3 of the Local Plan in number terms, creates a very cramped site, with open space delivered off-site to compensate. SMPC would like to see more landscaping within the site itself with less cramped design and less reliance on courtyard parking which we believe will lead to obstructions through on-road parking. To reinforce this point, we note that the pre-application advice offered by SBC to the applicant says ‘Dedicated parking spaces should be provided within the curtilage of properties’ which would be more in keeping with the character of existing housing in South Marston and would therefore comply with Neighbourhood Plan Policy NP2.
- Incompatible design, not in keeping with the South Marston Neighbourhood Plan. The application features significant 3-storey houses (17 in total). This is contrary to the Swindon Local Plan Policy RA3 which says ‘Development at South Marston shall…ensure it respects the character of the existing village’ and to the design principles (Policy NP2 in the South Marston Neighbourhood Plan), which would allow 2.5 storey homes of a limited number and only when built as a landmark feature.
The Council also wish to register strong areas of concern as follows:
- Inadequate information has been provided regarding the viability of the sports club in relation to the hotel, the costs of refurbishment for both or the viability of the hotel itself. We hope that SBC will require far more detailed information regarding the current viability of the site, including that of different parts of the existing businesses and their marketability.
- The application requires the demolition of The Old Vicarage, which is noted as part of the village’s heritage within the South Marston Neighbourhood Plan and from which ‘Old Vicarage Lane’ gets its name. SMPC would have preferred to see an imaginative use of the building within a housing development.
- The application makes no provision for housing for the elderly. Early discussions with the owners indicated a willingness to provide housing units for the elderly on this site, which is now missing from this proposal. Policy NP14 in the South Marston Neighbourhood Plan encourages housing units for the elderly close to the Village Centre, and this site is the best location for that to be delivered. Such units were part of the proposal at pre-application stage, and this is specifically referred to in pre-application advice offered by SBC, which notes the existence of demand for one and two bedroom properties for older people.
- Loss of employment opportunities within South Marston. The Mercure is one of the few employers within the village providing a range of full and part time employment.
- Quality of the research on the traffic impact of the development. The application takes account of public transport options that are not now available within the Village. The assumptions and modelling made within the application need to be reviewed.
Please also note that the Parish Council request that they are involved at an early stage in any discussions regarding the S106 with the developer and Swindon Borough Council, given the reliance of the site on community-owned open space and infrastructure.
As usual, feel free to contact the Clerk or myself about this response, should you need to do so.
South Marston Parish Council