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Decision in October on controversial Hook Street project
THE fate of land earmarked for a 73-home development on the edge of Lydiard Park is now in the hands of a planning inspector.
Roger Pritchard is expected to announce in late October his decision on whether housebuilder Persimmon Homes should be allowed to develop on a field just off Hook Street and adjacent to the park.
In 2011 plans to build 175 homes by Persimmon at the site were rejected by both Swindon Council’s planning committee and an planning inspectorate.
This year a revised proposal to build around 60 per cent fewer homes than the original scheme, on land further down the hill to avoid encroaching over the ridge were again refused by the council.
A two day appeal hearing began on Tuesday at the Civic Offices, led by Mr Pritchard, with the main issues centering on whether the development would affect the character and quality of the environment of Lydiard Park ridge landscape protection area and the park’s special historic interest.
The second day of the appeal saw the group, which included representatives from Persimmon, Friends of Lydiard Park, ward councillors, Wiltshire councillors and concerned residents, walk around the proposed development site.
Worries about the impact proposed traffic calming measures, including street lighting and dragon’s teeth, on Hook Street were raised during the visit with many saying this would impact on the area as well as the new homes.
“I would question whether this small number of houses is worth the potential impact it’s going to cause to the park,” said Lorraine Williams, a spokeswoman for the Lydiard Fields Action Group.
“I appreciate we need more houses but where it would change the nature of the asset so much we cannot see why it’s still being discussed – we can’t understand why it keeps coming back.”
Glenn Godwin, who was representing Persimmon homes from Pegasus Group, said: “It is not unusual if the inspectorate made comments (in 2011) that suggested an amended application could be accepted, to resubmit proposals.”
He added that as Swindon had a housing shortfall, a significant amount of impact on the park’s landscape would have to be proven before the proposals could be turned down.
Mr Pritchard said he could not give a definite date when his report, which will include his decision, will be made available. But he expected it to be around the end of October.
Lydiard Park is included on the register of Parks and Gardens of Specific Interest at Grade 11. The development would take place 120 metres away from the park’s boundary and many residents at the hearing yesterday said this proximity would have an adverse effect on the rural park.
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