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Chair: Paul Exell (email: phone: 01793 703276)

Membership Secretary: Sarah McDermott

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - Cllr Heaton-Jones

And I am not here to represent the Conservative administration of this Council – I am here as a ward councillor to represent the views of residents...To do anything else would not have been honest....Chair, I have to say a phrase that includes the words ‘not worth the paper it is written on’ springs to mind....My job tonight has been to tell you that many residents I represent, many of whom are here tonight, are opposed to this application. I share their concerns, the message is loud and clear, please do not ignore it."

Tadpole Farm is being mentioned on Oakhurst doorsteps

During bouts of heavy rain tonight Oakhurst residents got together and went out to speak to fellow Oakhurst residents.  Though people were busy on a Saturday night they took time to talk to their neighbours from Oakhurst.  We are grateful for the time they spent talking to us and it was obvious that the local Conservative councillors had actually created more questions after their visit.

ORA was able to answer these questions and hope that more interventions like this do the same.

Justin Tomlinson, MP uses a term, it's being mentioned on the doorsteps.  If he continues to promote the capitulation by Cllr Elliott, who proposed Tadpole Farm for approval, then people will react in a way he may not have seen before.

It is good that the local Conservative councillors and MP are aligning themselves to their actions and attempts to reassure local residents are failing.  If they had been aiming at a target then today they would have missed it by a country mile.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - Cllr Tomlinson

Cllr Vera Tomlinson (St Andrews) has served several years as a member of the Planning Committee.
She completes a U-turn in her point of view about what should happen to the Tadpole Farm application in the space of five days.  What happens to change her view so completely would only be conjecture; but it is ORA's opinion that to say it should be refused in one meeting and then say it should be approved in another is, at the least, very disturbing for the residents of North Swindon. 

At the North Locality meeting on Thursday, 7th June 2012 Cllr Tomlinson speaks to the residents about how the Tadpole Farm application should be refused:
"We’ve got to get through this first hurdle, and you know our mission is to try and bring up enough points to persuade the committee to vote against it.  And it is only outline planning permission that they are seeking on the night.  So you don’t get all the conditions and bits and pieces – it is purely do we have permission to build and then the officer will decide what the conditions are. Now, if I was on Planning Committee I wouldn’t vote for that because I think the committee needs to know exactly what they are voting for......

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - The Decision

"Tonight you have complained about the fact that consultation does not always happen and you want to close the circle further? I think that as many ward councillors as want to have a say should." 
(Cllr Toby Elliott to Cllr Vera Tomlinson)

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - Cllr Friend

"There is nothing in this application to support it being refused and I am very sad to say this, but like Cllr Tomlinson, I am a realist."  Planning Committee - 12th June 2012
"It shocked me how many people were against it and reading the application there are so many things that are wrong with it for the people that already live in the area."  North Locality Meeting - 7th June 2012

Monday, 25 June 2012

Tadpole Farm - North Locality Meeting 7th June 2012 - What's in a Minute?

On 7th June 2012 the North Locality meeting went ahead and Tadpole Farm was on the agenda.  We have put the minute up from the Locality Lead and have contrasted this minute with ORA's.

ORA note that the Northern Development councillors who attended the meeting spoke against development at Tadpole Farm but at Planning Committee recommended it for approval or left it up to the Planning Committee.

Cllr Vera Tomlinson says:

"I would like to respond to David [Cllr David Renard (Haydon Wick)] and I am sure he knew I would. It is a bit of a defeatist attitude, that one. We are fighting for something that means an awful lot to an awful lot of people that live in the area which we are talking about and who will be affected most. It is not a done deal if we turn it down, if this Planning Committee turns it down, that the inspector will also turn it down. We have the right to speak at that appeal and if our arguments are good then the inspector will agree with us. So don’t think that if it is turned down it is going to cost you all a lot of money. Not necessarily so. And, in my opinion it is a fight worth fighting. We have to do it, it concerns so many people and it is such a bad application..."
On the night, Cllr Tomlinson recommended the committee to approve the planning application.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Quotes from Officers at Planning Committee - Ms Cornelius, Transport

This is the discussion about the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system at Planning Committee on Tuesday, 12th June 2012 reference development at Tadpole Farm.  This post should be read in conjunction with ORA's briefing about the Bus Rapid Transit.

Ms Cornelius opens the discussion about the BRT: 

"A couple of comments on the Bus Rapid Transit system... I’d just like to clarify a couple of issues.  We know that all of the residents and councillors will be interested.  The Bus Rapid Transit is not a scheme put forward by the developer or devised by the developer it is a Borough-led scheme.  It is contained within our own Transport Strategy and in our own Local Transport Plan all of which have had consultation procedures that go with it.  

Bus Rapid Transit - Critical Infrastructure for Tadpole Farm?

ORA prepared a brief about the Bus Rapid Transit for Planning Committee on 12th June 2012.  However, the three minute rule meant that this evidence could not be presented on the night in response to the Planning Officer's report (this was released on-line on Friday, 1st June 2012 and was  over 120 pages long).

Core Strategy (CS) Policy NC5 B:  For the development at Tadpole Farm to be viable there has to be, “a rapid transit link between Tadpole Farm and Swindon town centre from the first phase of development and other public transport links”.  On pg. 108 point 4.77 the CS states that “a rapid transit route is critical to deliver the smaller scale urban extensions in a sustainable manner and should be phased in the early part of the development”. 

Friday, 22 June 2012

Quotes from Officers at Planning Committee - Mr Bell, Head Of Planning

So does the core strategy have significant weight, very significant weight or limited weight?  Do you have to take your pick from the lucky dip?

Quotes from Officers at Planning Committee - Mr Awojobi, Borough Solicitor

At the start of the Planning Committee, the Chairman of the committee, Cllr Colin Lovell (St Margaret and South Marston), passes over to Mr Awojobi, the Borough Solicitor.  The first question ORA members may want to ask:  What is the normal custom and practice of the Planning Committee for who speaks first after the Chairman introduces the application? Is it the Planning officer or the Borough Solicitor?
"Thank you, Chair, I just want to give a very quick advice due to the nature of this application....Can I just check I can be heard properly.  Thank you.
Because of the controversial nature of this application it is important that I give a very short advice before the debate starts.  The Council has final authority, has a statutory duty to determine whether the application bears weight for determination.  That statutory responsibility does not mean that you have to say yes or no – it just means that when you have an application before you which the applicant says they want determined,  you have to determine it.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Why did the Tomlinsons and the Leader attend information sharing meetings with Tadpole Farm developers?

ORA would like to extend its thanks to for enabling a big conversation to occur online for people with an interest in the issue of development at Tadpole Farm.  In particular, ORA would like to thank the person who signs himself/herself as Mellon who today, brought to our attention the following statement:
Why would he need to go to the planning committee?  He has already attended an official unofficial meeting with developers while he was PPC on 25th January 2010 with Vera Tomlinson, Rod Bluh and Peter Greenhalgh.  And surprise, surprise no minutes were taken for the meeting.  There was a second meeting took place on the 3rd December 2010 but Justin wasn’t there”.
There is correspondence on What do They FOI No: 101000244815.

No Quote at Planning Committee - Mr Tomlinson, MP

It does not appear that Mr Tomlinson, MP is mentioned in the planning officer's committee report.  A text search of the electronic copy of the report (over a hundred and twenty pages long) does not seem to find a single reference to him.

Mr Tomlinson did not attend the planning committee but the planning officer reports a letter as follows:

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Tadpole Farm - Back to the Future?

On looking back through our records we came across this item. Isn't it so relevant now?

In February 2011, yes 2011, ORA sent a leaflet out to the whole of Oakhurst.

Developers and MP reveal their disastrous proposals for Tadpole Farm!
On Friday, 25th February 2011 a meeting was hosted by the North Swindon MP for the developers and ORA.  The purpose of the meeting was for ORA to gain a better understanding of the developers’ proposals for Tadpole Farm.
The outcome of the meeting is that ORA are now a lot clearer about the position of our political representatives – with both the MP and the ward councillors appearing, to all intents and purposes, to be batting for the developers against the residents of Oakhurst.

Cllr Martin - another quote at Planning Committee

"First statement of useful fact – Roderick Bluh, Leader of the Conservative Group, hasn’t discussed this application with me, hasn’t made any points to me about this application or hasn’t put any influence on me in any shape or form or publication on the subject of this planning application.  I therefore declare entirely and completely that I am unfettered in any views I take tonight and in the way I vote tonight.  I think that’s important for a member of the planning committee to state given some of the influences that have been brought to bear on some of the members which I have been interested to read and astonished me".

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - Cllr Martin

Councillor Nick Martin (Shaw) contributed to an article about the Ridgeway Farm appeal in the Swindon Link in March 2012.  He linked Tadpole Farm's go ahead to the defence of development at Ridgeway: 
"The point is that the infrastructure for Tadpole Farm is in place and it will satisfy the needs of people who travel north on the A419 and to M4 Junction 15.  I believe the number trying to access the west wil be limited.  Swindon Council can make demands on [the developer] to deliver the necessary infrastructure improvements". 
At Planning Committee Cllr Martin talks about how development in the North has affected West Swindon and how one of the road links between North and West Swindon should be severed:
"As residents of West Swindon, I and my fellow residents have suffered because of the northern development and the lack of infrastructure roads such as the Iffley Road link to Thamesdown we in West Swindon have traffic flushing through our roads, we have Mead Way bogged down. I mean ideally, if it was at all possible, I would like to close the old Purton Road link somewhere just short of Thamesdown Drive and tell the folks up there to find their own way someplace else.

But then it can’t be done, it would be really nice, it would change the whole dynamic of driving around West Swindon. It would also open up Mead Way wonderfully. 
Maybe I ought to actually blow the road up, but there you go".

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Swindon Link Article - "Reversal of the [Tadpole Farm] decision is unlikely"

Please see the on-line article from the Swindon Link magazine:
"The permission to proceed is subject to further negotiations and agreement between Crest, planning officers and local councillors on Section 106 contributions. However, with Crest holding the appeal gun to Swindon Council's head, the probability of any reversal of the decision is unlikely."

Developer's Consultation or Insult-ation at Tadpole Farm?

It has been said by those holding a loftier position than a Residents' Association secretary that the developer's consultation, concerning the Tadpole Farm application, was an insult (see Councillors' quotes from Planning Committee, Cllr Dempsey).

Here is a quote from the developer's Statement of Community Engagement, Nov. 2011 (Tadpole Farm), a requirement of the Localism Act:
"In spite of encouraging local people to comment on the detail of community facilities and timing of facilities to provide at Tadpole Farm, there was a reluctance to engage at this level of detail by those living locally.  They were either insufficiently concerned to submit a view..whilst others had more fundamental concerns and could therefore not contemplate the development proceeding until their concerns had been addressed to their satisfaction."

Monday, 18 June 2012

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - Cllr Dempsey

Cllr Mark Dempsey speaks after the Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Jim Grant.  He introduces himself as a resident of St Andrews Ridge, Chair of St Andrews Ridge Residents' Association and Deputy Leader of the Labour Group. 

Cllr Dempsey makes a heartfelt statement about the developer's consultation which he describes as an insult to the residents:
"And I thought there was a failure, a deep failure of consultation – we weren’t consulted, frankly we were insulted.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - Cllr Faramarzi

Cllr Emma Faramarzi has been a local ward councillor in Priory Vale for just under two months.  In pre-election literature all three Conservative candidates for Priory Vale,  Cllr Mark Edward, Cllr Emma Faramarzi and Toby Elliott said:
"We'll fight the developers whose plans threaten to increase traffic levels, over-burden local services and concrete our countryside.  We will continue to oppose the current Tadpole Farm Application."

Toby Elliott and his website?

It has been brought to our attention recently that Toby Elliott posted this on his website during his campaign to become a Borough councillor:

"Saturday campaigning: Tadpole Lane"
"On Saturday myself and Councillor Emma Faramarzi joined Paul Exell and Kevin Lay from the Oakhurst Residents’ Association to collect signatures for a standard objection letter relating to Tadpole Farm".
We wish to clarify that he spent 90 minutes with ORA, as an Oakhurst resident, helping us to collect objections to the Tadpole Farm application.
We have looked into the matter and found that he never sought our consent to use our logo or written documents either in writing or verbally. Now that Councillor Toby Elliott has been elected to Swindon Borough Council we do not consent to our logo or any of our documents being used by him without our express written permission.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Councillors' Quotes at Planning Committee - Cllr Wakefield

One of the ward councillors who spoke at Planning Committee is Steve Wakefield (Mannington/Western).  His focus was the Purton/Iffley Road link:
"What I want to say tonight, Chair, is all about the Purton/Iffley Road link, or the Great Western link road as it is sometimes referred to."

Friday, 15 June 2012

Councillors' Quotes from Planning Committee - Cllr Elliott

ORA will be putting up a day-by-day account of the words spoken by our local councillors at the Planning Committee on Tuesday, 12th June 2012.  The decision to approve was taken by a number of councillors, not just one, and ward councillors from across North Swindon had a viewpoint on the decision.

We would like our membership to have a flavour of how the meeting went - in total it lasted for about 3 hours - to make up their own minds about how the decision was taken and by whom.

First of all ORA will concentrate on Cllr Elliott, Priory Vale Councillor and member of the Planning Committee, who proposed the application for approval with conditions:

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Are you having a laugh Mr Bluh?

"I note the comments by other councillors and residents' association spokespersons about Tadpole Farm and I welcome their commitment to the Council's position". 
Political columnist (PC) Rod Bluh, in the Adver on 14th June 2012, appears somewhat confused about his role -whether as a PC or as a pundit/raconteur? As a PC he appears to have fallen into the age-old journalistic trap of never allowing the facts to get in the way of a good story.

Anger as Council folds on Tadpole Farm Plans

Please see a link below to an article about the approval of the plans to build at Tadpole Farm -

Swindon Advertiser article - Anger_as_council_folds_on_Tadpole_Farm_plans/

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Disbelief - Tadpole Farm approved at Planning Committee

We have very disappointing news to report that last night Swindon Borough Council approved (to all intents and purposes) planning permission for 1,695 houses at Tadpole Farm. It was also very disappointing that our Priory Vale ward councillor, Toby Elliott, proposed the approval of this application as a member of the planning committee. Residents from Oakhurst and Redhouse, who attended the meeting (over 3 hours long), expressed utter disbelief about the decision and what the local councillors had said/done. The local ward councillors spoke of how many residents had expressed their grave concerns about the development and how strong the local opposition had been but then said that they had no choice but to recommend approval of the application (for information there were two other choices – refusal and deferral). Although there were warm words about us, the local councillors were not willing to turn it down and fight on appeal even though ORA had taken expert advice that there was a genuine case to fight. It was as if there was only one option and the Council talked the community’s view to defeat.
What is Oakhurst going to get?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Oakhurst's Worse Fears Confirmed - Tadpole Approved

Residents from Oakhurst who attended the planning committee meeting expressed sadness and disbelief about the decision taken this evening.  They found it odd that councillors didn't agree with what the developers were proposing in the application but still said it should go ahead.  Priory Vale councillor, Toby Elliott, recommended Tadpole Farm for approval seconded by councillor Dale Heenan.

There will be a three month extra negotiation period for the S.106 agreement but the Head of Planning made it clear that 45% of the site's traffic and £60,000 to mitigate the harm was a fair deal.  This is less than the amount of money that the developer paid to put the application through the Council system.

The Labour Leader, Cllr Jim Grant, challenged Crest Nicholson to do better and appealed to their better nature.  He said that they needed to put an improved package in place in consultation with the residents.

Cllr Vera Tomlinson made the point that only the St Andrews councillors should have any say over the negotiations about the S.106 money because Tadpole Farm sits entirely within that ward.  However, a plethera of councillors challenged her on this issue and now all the north Swindon councillors will have an opportunity to find a way forward.

In all the discussions about how to improve the S.106 package none of the St Andrews or Priory Vale councillors mentioned speaking to the community to find out about what they would like to see.  They thought that the developer consultation was not very good but did not express a need to share their decision-making role with the local residents.

Now the Oakhurst residents will be left to deal with the hundreds of extra cars down their local road with two minor crossings to deal with the impact.

Tadpole Farm - ORA say to Planning Committee "TURN IT DOWN"

Later today, Swindon Borough Council's planning committee takes place to decide whether the Tadpole Farm development should be granted planning permission.  ORA will have representatives there to speak and Haydon Wick Parish Council will be sending councillors too.

ORA's position is, as always, NO to Tadpole Farm.  The application should be refused on the grounds of prematurity.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Oakhurst/Redhouse Rapid Bus Route

The Rapid Bus Route is detailed in the Borough Council's planning committee report about the Tadpole Farm application:
  • Option 1  Oakhurst Way and western junction into the development
  • Option 2  Via Redhouse Village Centre
"Crest will have no influence over whether it is option 1 or 2 that is implemented thereby allowing the Council to give due consideration to the most appropriate and effective route"...(pg. 59, paras. 148/9)

At Blunsdon St Andrew Parish Council meeting on Monday, 11th June 2012, the ORA Committee were asked the question, by a Redhouse resident, if they had been involved in any deals with the developer about the Rapid Bus Route?  Were they behind putting the route through Redhouse?

The ORA Committee would like to make it very clear that they have not been involved in any meetings, decision-making or planning of the final bus route.

They were surprised to be asked this question when this matter has been dealt with by SBC's planning department and councillors.  Any questions about the routing of the rapid bus service should be referred to them directly.

ORA's position is that this is a matter for the planning committee to decide and we wait in anticipation for that decision.

If the Council decides to put buses down Oakhurst Way then we will deal with that decision appropriately at that time.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Tadpole Farm plans not ready for consideration say residents

Please find a link to the above Swindon Link Magazine article -

Reminder - the Tadpole Farm Planning Application will be considered by the Swindon Borough Council Planning Committee on Tuesday, 12th June 2012, 6pm at the Civic Offices, Euclid Street, Swindon SN1 2JH.

If you want to make your views known about the Tadpole Farm application, then come along. If you want to speak at the meeting, please call the committee clerk on 01793 463605 by 12 noon on Monday 11th June.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Date Confirmed For Tadpole Farm Planning Decision

It has been confirmed that the Tadpole Farm Planning Application will be considered by the Swindon Borough Council Planning Committee on Tuesday, 12th June 2012, 6pm at the Civic Offices, Euclid Street, Swindon SN1 2JH. 

If you want to make your views known about the Tadpole Farm application, then come along.  If you want to speak at the meeting, please call the committee clerk on 01793 463605 by 12 noon on Monday 11th June.