'Desperate' disappointment of campaigners as Lydiard Park homes development is approved (From Swindon Advertiser)
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'Desperate' disappointment of campaigners as Lydiard Park homes development is approved
CAMPAIGNERS have expressed their ‘desperate’ disappointment at a planning inspector’s decision to give the green light for homes to be built on the edge of Swindon’s crown jewel Lydiard Park.
The decision follows a two-year battle by a number of community groups, councillors, residents and South Swindon MP Robert Buckland to quash the development which will take place on land just off from Hook Street.
And the announcement has sparked fears that more developers will target the land after they hear about this success.
Planning inspector Roger Pritchard led a two-day hearing at the beginning of the month into whether Persimmon Homes should be allowed to build 73 homes so close to the park.
He revealed yesterday that he was granting the application, which was rejected by Swindon Council’s planning team in April.
In 2011 the housebulders’ proposals to build 175 homes on the land just sitting on Lydiard ridge was rejected by both the council and a planning inspectorate who said it would have an adverse effect on the park – the jewel in Swindon’s crown.
Persimmon Homes then revised its proposals based on the comments made by the previous inspectorate.
“I was not convinced that the revised development – of substantially reduced scale compared to the previous proposal and located where it would have significantly less impact – would result in the degree of material harm to the landscape or the setting of these heritage assets that many local residents suggested to me,” Mr Pritchard said in his report.
“We are completely in shock and desperately disappointed by the inspectorate’s decision,” said Lorraine Williams, a member of the Lydiard Park Action Group.
“All the way through we have argued that effect on this beautiful asset for the sake of a few houses was not worth it.”
Coun Cindy Matthews, who represents Lydiard and Freshbrook wards, said she felt as though everybody had a fair hearing.
“The fear is that this may give the green light to developers over in Wiltshire,” said Coun Matthews.
“Everybody is going to be very sad about this because they felt very strongly about it.”
Coun Dale Heenan, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Sustainability, said: “With Grange Park and a school directly next to Lydiard Park, a new development 300 metres further away was always going to be difficult to fight.
“I will be raising this application as an example of why Swindon needs its Local Plan approved by the Planning Inspectorate as soon as possible when I meet Nick Boles, Minister for Planning, in December.”
The Swindon Advertiser was unable to get a response from Persimmon Homes by the time the paper went to print.
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