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Wichelstowe is 'fit for purpose'
5:00am Thursday 13th February 2014 in News
ALTERATIONS to plans for Wichelstowe could tempt devleopers to build the rest of the estate after councillors approved them at a planning committee meeting.
The updated outline planning application now has a different road layout, an increase in the number of homes which need to be occupied and a reduction in the number of affordable homes developers will need to provide.
It means talks can now be held with a number of companies about who will develop the site, which will eventually boast 4,500 homes.
A shortlist of developers has been drawn up and discussions will begin shortly. The meeting was attended by representatives of residents’ groups opposed to the changes, as well as ward councillors from Old Town and Wroughton.
Concerns were raised about the alterations, as the road running through the estate will no longer run directly south along the site but will instead go into the heart of development.
As a result, commuters may instead choose to go through Wroughton or Old Town, but council officers say the new road will be able to cope with the traffic, although it is slightly longer.
Several objections were also raised about halving the number of affordable homes required, which dropped from 30 to 15 per cent.
Coun Brian Ford (Con, Wroughton and Wichelstowe) moved a motion to reject the changes but was unable to win enough support at the meeting on Tuesday night.
After the meeting, he said: “I am obviously very disappointed with the outcome for both my current constituents and the extra ones I will be gaining when Wichelstowe is built. The whole point of the plan was to have a Southern Relief Road. The traffic through Wroughton has been terrible with Foxham Way closed, so I dread to think what it will be like with an extra 4,500 homes.”
While the plans were approved, an amendment was made to ensure there were checks on raising the affordable home quota if market conditions improved. It was also noted that the building of the original southern relief road, as well as the new road, could be discussed at a later date.
He said: “ What we have now is a plan which is fit for purpose. It may not be the gold standard we originally envisaged but there have been a lot of changes since the economic downturn in 2008.
“I fully respect the right of the planning committee to have their say and some very sensible points have being made. We can now start discussions with a number of developers who are interested in taking on the site.”