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Green spaces will be protected, says Swindon planning chief
SWINDON Council’s planning chief, Coun Dale Heenan, is seeking to offer extra assurances to residents and community groups who fear the possibility of future development on green space in their area.
The council’s final version of the Local Plan sets out a specific planning policy on open space, including that any designated open space is protected from development, except in certain circumstances, such as where the development provides community benefit which outweighs the loss.
However, Coun Heenan, cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, wants to hear from anyone concerned about green space in their area to see whether there are extra ways of safeguarding cherished land for the future – even if it would not be already protected by this policy.
After being approached by ward councillors, Coun Heenan recently agreed to designate Pickards Field, in Gorse Hill, Moredon Rec and nearby Martins Farm as part of the green strategic corridor in the Local Plan, providing an extra level of protection.
He has launched the initiative now as the Local Plan is out to public consultation so there is still a window to change it if needed, and because the Government has introduced its National Planning Policy Framework, whose central theme is the presumption in favour of “sustainable development”.
“If any residents are concerned about open space in their area, then please contact me we; will see what can be done,” said Coun Heenan.
“Sometimes it might be myth- busting rumours and concerns, or it might be possible to give additional protection over and above what is in the Local Plan.
“Every response on this issue will be considered. I can’t make any specific promises but the Local Plan is for 15 years and I see absolutely no reason why Swindon Borough Council can’t consider whether it can go further in reassuring local residents.”
Coun Heenan said this was because it did not meet the legal criteria, but offered to discuss other ways to protect the land, like the council voluntarily giving it the status.
John Brownlee, SWAP’s chairman and secretary, said: “Anything to guarantee that no one can ever go up there with a bricklayer’s trowel and start laying bricks. That’s what it’s about – to keep open space as open space for public use.”
Comments must be emailed to email@example.com by 6pm on February 21, and should include as much information as possible about the open space.
Full details about the 2026 Local Plan, maps and the consultation can be found at www.swindon.gov.uk/localplan