SWINDON is to send a clear message to the Government in Westminster that they must put a stop to developers riding roughshod over the will of local people.

At a meeting of the full council last week, members from all three parties voted unanimously to call for a change to planning rules.

The call came in the wake of a series of appeals that have seen the agreed wishes of Swindon Borough Council, local parish councils and ordinary people disregarded with developers given permission to build houses on land never identified for that purpose.

The latest example saw the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, rule that a deeply unpopular development for 103 homes off Marlborough Road in Wroughton could go ahead despite it having been rejected by both Wroughton Parish Council and Swindon Borough Council.

Among the reasons for his decision was the finding that Swindon cannot demonstrate that it is able to build enough houses over the next five years.

The measure - known as the five year housing land supply - has become the weapon of choice at appeal for developers across the country.

But opponents of the current regulations believe there must be a change in what is counted towards the housing supply number. At the moment, granting planning permission is not enough. The development has to be underway.

The result is that in Swindon - where some estimates show the council has issued enough permissions to demonstrate a seven year supply, let alone five - developers get permission to build and then sit on land while simultaneously pursuing speculative and unpopular applications in other parts of the town.

Urging his fellow councillors to back his calls for a change in the law which would see all permissions included in the five year supply calculations, Coun Brian Ford (Con - Wroughton), said: “This council has identified areas for development that far, far, exceed the mythical five year land supply.

“But no, that is not enough for our developer friends who constantly challenge our assumptions and make appeals when planning consent is rightly turned down.

“In my own area there have been several hostile applications which have been upheld on appeal or in one case overturned by the Secretary of State. This is despite Wroughton having been one of the first to have a Neighbourhood Plan.

“Wroughton has identified land for far more houses than we were asked to supply but that’s not good enough. The developers want nice greenfield sites for maximum profit.”

Appealing to his colleagues beyond the council chamber in Euclid Street, Coun Ford acknowledged that even a unanimous vote in Swindon might not make Sajid Javid take notice.

But he said that if 50 or 60 other local authorities follow suit and do the same, he may have no choice.

Following the vote, council leader David Renard will now write to the Secretary of State to formally call for a change in the rules.