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Local plan aims to protect existing residents
SOUTH Swindon was already under expansion before the publication of the final draft of the local plan – with construction work under way at Wichelstowe and work expected to start in the coming years at Coate.
The local plan 2026 will be the new overarching planning document. It 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.
South Swindon is earmarked for 4,064 homes and 12.5 hectares of employment land at Wichelstowe, plus 890 homes and 15 hectares of employment land at Coate, also referred to as Commonhead. Both sites already have planning permission.
However, the document does not identify further sites for homes and there is also a buffer zone for each development: between the Coate development and Coate Water Country Park, and between the M4 and Wroughton’s existing urban boundary.
There are rules stating the character of Wroughton will be protected by a principle of non-coalescence between settlements, and the land between Wichelstowe and the village shall remain countryside.
Coun Dale Heenan, the cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, said: “Planning permission for Commonhead and Wichelstowe have already been given permission and there’s nothing we can do to unpick that.
“But we can ensure they don’t impact further on residents. One way is the introduction of a buffer with the local plan to prevent further encroachment.”
He said the local plan reflected the existing planning permission for Wichelstowe. However the council would review aspects of the development, such as whether the southern relief road should go through the development rather than skirting the M4. But he declined to say whether the amount of employment land could be changed in the review.
“The plans for Wichelstowe remain the same but we will be bringing a cabinet report soon on the future of Wichelstowe,” he said.
“Wichelstowe was granted permission in 2006 and has slowly been developed. It will continue to be developed over the next 10 to 15 years and the plan recognises that.
“I will bring a cabinet report forward in the New Year to tackle the issues of the southern relief road, infrastructure and employment.”
Dr Chris Barry, of the Save Coate Coalition said he was pleased no further housing land was allocated in the south, but wanted explicit protection for land between Coate Water County Park and the M4.
He said: “In theory the plan gives protection to the land around Coate Water but it’s not absolute.”