A LOCAL action group is looking to safeguard the future of Lydiard Park by applying for it to become an asset of community value.
The Lydiard Fields Action Group submitted an application earlier this month to the council and is looking for a response by the end of May.
The application is to register Lydiard House, Lydiard Park and the adjacent Greendown Plantation in the hope this will further protect the site from ever falling into private ownership – much like a similar, successful bid to protect the County Ground earlier this year.
Listing local property and land as assets of community value under the Localism Act does not prevent such assets being sold. However, it does mean that the community has a right to bid for such assets to keep them in public ownership.
Earlier this year, there was a political row over whether the historic site was to be sold off but the LFAG has said they planned to apply for this status before this took place.
A spokesman for the group said: “These two areas are both owned by the council and in our view easily satisfy the requirements for registration. We hope that the council will agree. Although all three political parties have now pledged not to sell Lydiard Park, we had been thinking about making an application long before this arose.”
The LFAG believes that making Lydiard House and the surrounding area an asset of community value would provide an extra layer of protection in a world were there is ever-increasing pressure on council budgets and demand to build houses.
They say the recent decision by the planning inspector to approve an application to build homes on adjacent land is a prime example of this and demonstrates why it is vital to protect Lydiard Park.
The group’s spokesman added: “In Swindon, we are really lucky to have such a place as Lydiard, with its history stretching back over hundreds of years, its wildlife and its countryside ambience, from which the park derives much of its special feeling.
“But with the double pressures of council budget cuts and developers keen to build on the green fields for housing, none of this can be taken for granted. The recent agreement for outline planning permission on the last remaining field between Grange Park and Lydiard, which at the moment still links the Plantation to the Park, demonstrates its vulnerability.
“While a registration won’t actually prevent a sale of the House, Park or Plantation should the council be minded to sell, we hope it expresses in a concrete way, the appreciation felt by many residents and visitors alike for these areas.”