YESTERDAY saw the first day of the public examination of the town’s Local Plan, a document which, if approved, will decide where the major development in Swindon will take place over the next 12 years.
The Local Plan, which has been developed over a number of years, allocates space for 22,000 homes to be built in the borough by 2026.
Over the next four weeks Planning Inspector Mike Fox will seek to test the soundness of the plan before it is formally implemented.
During that time, a series of debates will take place at which certain bodies, such as parish councils, developers and pressure groups, will raise their concerns and offer alternatives for the plan, to which Swindon Council can respond.
Several months after the end of the examination, which is taking place at the Steam museum, Mr Fox may decide to accept the plan, reject it or insist alterations are made before it is fully adopted.
The plan covers a wide range of developments, such as Wichel-stowe, Tadpole Farm and the Eastern Villages as well as including an economic strategy. On the first day a number of issues were discussed, including whether the Local Plan had met all the legal requirements.
Concern was raised by the Blunsdon Action Group about the Kingsdown part of the proposal which would see see 1,500 homes built just south of the village.
They feel there was not adequate consultation, and therefore to keep it in the Local Plan could potentially damage the whole document.
Spokesman for the group Matt Horan said: “The plan needs to go ahead. It is vital for the future of the town it gets approved and no-one is trying to scupper it.
“What we are saying is people were not adequately consulted. It was originally a 500 home development, then it was removed before appearing again in October last year three times as big.
“We feel it is vital this is taken out.”
Council officers say adequate consultation has taken place and will demonstrate this when the Kingsdown development is looked at in closer detail later during the examination.
A council spokesman said: “The great benefit of the independent examination is that it’s independent. “We firmly believe we have produced a sound draft Local Plan and we are making our case to the Planning Inspector.
“Others might take a different view but like us, they need to make their case. “The Inspector will ultimately decide, based on the evidence presented to him.”
The public examination continues today at the Steam Museum at 9.30am when the spatial strategy and housing need will be debated.