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Developer comes back with fewer new homes for Hook Street site
A DECISION on whether a 76-house development should be allowed near the jewel of Swindon will be made today.
Planning inspector Roger Pritchard led a hearing yesterday into whether developers Primegate Properties Ltd should be allowed to build on land at the border of Lydiard Park.
In 2011 the housebuilders lodged an application to build 175 homes on a site off Hook Street but were refused permission by both Swindon Council and a planning inspector.
This year Primegate put in new proposals slashing the number of houses to 73 and moving the location further down the hill to avoid encroaching over the ridge, which was a main argument of those who objected to the original plan.
The hearing at the Civic Offices focused on whether the reduced development would spoil the heritage and landscape of Lydiard Park deemed by many as a jewel of Swindon.
Swindon Council’s officers and local residents claimed the gradual approach to the rural park adds to the appeal of the attraction. They said this would be encroached by new homes appearing on the skyline and creating an urban feel.
But Duncan McInerney, partner at Primegate, said the new plans do not just cut 60 per cent of the houses in the original design, but also add important buffering with planting to minimise the overall impact on the development.
“It is important not to look at the character at the Lydiard Ridge on its own but to look at the wider open landscape,” said Mr McInerney.
He claimed there would still be large open spaces around the park and the new homes.
Lorraine Williams, a spokeswoman for the Lydiard Fields Action Group, said it was really important to have the park in a rural setting to allow users to get a sense they are leaving the city behind.
She said: “For many individuals living in the area this development would make a huge difference. When you go to the park it gives you a sense of being in the country.
“I couldn’t always afford to take my children off to the country for a weekend. It (going to the park) gave me a chance to feel like I was having a little bit of countryside.”
She said that would be lost if this development was granted.
A Friends of Lydiard Park member, Sarah Finch-Chrisp, said a £5 million restoration had taken place at the park which recognised its importance.
She said: “It recognises just how much of an important asset it is for the people of Swindon.
“Building up to the perimeter of the park would diminish it.”
The inspector, Mr Pritchard, adjourned the hearing until 10am today so a site visit could be carried out.
He said: “The hearing will still be open. If members of the public want to come and add their views, everyone is welcome.”
Anyone wishing to attend should go to Lydiard Park for 10am, meeting at the car park near the museum.
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