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700 give views on Local Plan
9:20am Monday 4th March 2013 in News
SWINDON Council has received more than 700 responses to its vision for the development of the borough until 2026 – including where to put 22,000 extra homes.
The Local Plan 2026 will be the new planning document which will guide the decisions of the planning committee and officers. It sets out a number of general policies, as well as specific locations for residential and employment uses.
The statutory nine-week public consultation on the final draft finished on February 21.
The council has revealed it received 361 general responses, plus at least the same number from the Blunsdon Action Group on the proposed Kingsdown development of 1,650 homes on fields near Blunsdon, although these are still being counted. One hundred people submitted past the deadline.
The total is lower than the 1,800 comments and objections received in the consultation on the previous draft. Coun Dale Heenan, cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, said it showed people were happier with the updated draft – but campaigners say they are still unhappy.
Coun Heenan said: “All comments sent in, even the 100 which missed the deadline, are being reviewed over the next six weeks and will be submitted to the planning inspector as evidence. “This has been a consultation, changes will be made, but the council will not be able to please everyone. The Local Plan has been highlighted since October 2012, and we have tried to raise the profile of the consultation as much as possible.
“The national changes in planning mean that Swindon can set its own policies and we have added a range of tough new protections to protect green open space, ensure the right infrastructure like roads and schools will be built at the right time, and rules to tackle flooding. “There is cross party support for this approach and I hope these kind of improvements will have reassured residents.”
Lou Johnson, of Blunsdon Action Group, estimated that about 500 people responded on Kingsdown, which reflected the level of local opposition.
She said: “I’m very pleased. I would have liked 1,200 but 500 is really, really good. The reason I’m saying it’s really, really good is the responses were of a high quality: around half of them made their own comments. They did their own fact-finding and put their own words together.
“We aren’t against building per se, it’s just in an inappropriate place.”
Jean Saunders, of the Save Coate Campaign, said there would have been hundreds more responses if the council’s representation form did not advise against multiple responses listing the same points.
She said: “They actually told us they didn’t want people writing in with the same objections so in fact the Coate response to the draft policy was all done as one person, and we just had to list all the names. We actually listed about 3,000 people’s names and addresses.”
She said the main argument from the campaigners was the proposed buffer between the development and Coate Water would not protect the land in perpetuity and would not protect land south of Coate Water.