By Cllr Toby Elliott
As it seems to have not been reported correctly in some quarters I shall set out what happened last night; a copy of which will be sent to BBC Wiltshire and the Swindon Advertiser.
At the Planning Committee we were presented with a report that unequivocally recommended that planning permission be approved for Tadpole Farm. Committee members were informed, in our pre-meeting briefing, that if the decision was rejected OR deferred then Crest Nicholson would DEFINITELY take the decision to the Planning Inspectorate with a 99% chance of winning. If this appeal was won, the amount of money available to the community would decrease and the planning control taken out of the council’s hands.
This does not mean we could not have refused or deferred, that is up to the Committee, but we have seen first-hand what happens in this instance. Many parts of Priory Vale are testament to what happens when decisions are taken by the Planning Inspectorate rather than the council. Tight roads, lack of parking, a comparatively small amount of green and open spaces plus a lack of amenities.
As outlined last night, I continue to have major reservations about this development. Therefore, I proposed that Crest Nicholson have 3 months to address the issues that have been put forward by residents and councillors, including traffic and school places, if they do not so within the 3 months then planning permission is REMOVED. This was voted through unanimously.
If planning permission is removed, Crest Nicholson is unlikely to challenge this to the Planning Inspectorate as permission had been granted and only removed due to their own failings. Even if they did take it to the inspectorate, Swindon Borough Council would stand a good chance of winning on this basis.
I would now urge all residents of Priory Vale who have concerns to contact their ward councillors, whether that is Priory Vale or St Andrews wards, or Cllr Colin Lovell as the Chair of Planning. It is these councillors (which includes me) who will be putting your concerns forward in the negotiations, in conjunction with the officers.
We are aware of the many concerns people have with this development, so what we need from residents is their pragmatic thoughts and solutions for fixing these. For instance, we believe that the traffic load on Oakhurst Way will be significant and detrimental to residents; the current plans to alleviate this with two crossings are insufficient at best. However, what we need to hear from you is suggestions of how YOU would like to see this alleviated. ALL suggestions will be put forward with our own during the negotiations.
I realise that this is not the decision most people wanted, but due to the situation I do believe it is the best decision that could have been taken. Please remember, these negotiations are NOT to discuss monetary contributions, but concerns with the development. Most importantly, if Crest Nicholson do not address concerns that have been put forward the planning permission is REMOVED.