It may be helpful to set out the role of the Parish Council on Planning Matters.
Prior to making a formal Application for Planning Permission (and paying a large fee) applicants and their advisers hold confidential talks with the Borough’s officers. The officer produces a letter saying whether or not such an application is likely to be granted by the Borough’s Planning Committee and what changes to the original proposal the officer would like to see. All applications must comply with the Swindon Local Plan 2026, which can be located via Google
If the Applicant decides to proceed a formal application is lodged with the Borough who invite comments from Statutory Consultees such as Thames Water (water supply and sewers) and the Environment Agency (flood risk) and the Parish Council and the public.
Those comments are then considered by the Borough’s planning officers. They will grant or refuse smaller applications themselves. Larger or controversial applications, will be referred to the Borough’s Planning Committee with a recommendation that they be granted or refused. The officer might also ask for further details or amendments to the application.
Any refusal must be based on sound planning reasons. If it is not and the Applicant successfully appeals the decision, there are heavy costs penalties on the Borough. This process has strict time limits.
Because the Borough’s Planning Committee can only refuse an application for sound planning reasons, the Parish Council seeks to ensure that its comments are based on sound planning grounds.
The Parish Council meets once a month and normally comments on 2 or 3 planning applications. The statutory time limit for commenting on applications is 21 days. Because this is out of phase with our meetings, the Borough will normally agree to extend this time if requested. Prior to the meeting the Planning Group of the Council reads the application and ancillary documents, to include any planning officer comments and gives a report setting out the main points. The application is then discussed in public and our comments agreed.
Members of the public are welcome to our meetings and they always start with an “Open Ten Minutes” at which residents can ask questions or make points prior to the formal meeting. After this time members of the public can only speak if requested by the Chair.
Most Parish Councils only ever have to deal with small applications. Since I have been on the Council we have had applications for a car factory, a supermarket, a district Police station, a rail terminal, numerous major warehouses and significant residential developments.
We are now part of the largest residential expansion in England. This is authorised by the Swindon Local Plan 2026, particularly Policies NC3 and RA3. We have responded to this by developing the South Marston Neighbourhood Plan, more details at:www.southmarstonplan.com For further information, please email the clerk.