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West Swindon escapes plans for expansion
West Swindon is not earmarked for any further expansion in the final draft of the local plan because Swindon Council says there is no more suitable space – and the infrastructure is inadequate even if there were.
The local plan 2026 will be the new overarching planning document, which will guide the decisions of the planning committee and officers, and sets out a number of general policies, as well as specific locations for residential and employment uses.
Across the borough, the document allocates space for 22,000 new homes and 77.5 hectares of new employment land, which the council says is necessary to maintain housing growth in line with economic and demographic forecasts, prevent unwanted development on greenfield land, and provide for business growth.
However, West Swindon, which has seen massive expansion since the 1980s, is hardly mentioned once in the document.
Coun Dale Heenan, cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, said: “The plan sets out how Swindon will grow over the next 15 years and there are no plans for the west of Swindon. By being robust and forward in our plans, we can support the local residents who do not wish to see development like Hook Street take place. “Development needs to take place somewhere in Swindon, but we don’t see how further development to the west is viable.
“No land is being allocated for the west of Swindon. And that’s something I hope that residents are pleased to hear and I know local councillors will be.”
This does not block developers from making a planning application on land not allocated for housing on either side of the Swindon-Wiltshire border. But the updated local plan will provide a stronger defence at a possible future planning inquiry.
It also cannot prevent the planned 700-home estate at Ridgeway Farm, close to Purton, on which the Government intends to announce a final decision on or before November 1.
In terms of improved infrastructure, the draft document protects the route of the Purton-Iffley relief road. Coun Heenan said: “We well know the importance of tackling traffic on Mead Way so we will continue supporting the Purton-Iffley road and protect its route. We just need to find the £100m for it.”
Resident Richard Symonds, of The Bramptons, Shaw, said he was pleased with the protection for West Swindon but was disappointed that Ridgeway Farm could not be protected.
“I’m relieved,” he said. “But I’m against any form of development anywhere that’s not supported by infrastructure to cope with the requirements of that community and the community it impacts upon.
“I don’t know where else they could build houses now. They have used every nook and corner now. The only one left is Hook Street up at Lydiard and I’m not convinced that’s gone away.”