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

Membership Secretary: Sarah McDermott

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?
  1. A 25% increase in traffic down Oakhurst Way equating to an extra car every 12 seconds. This will give us a 45% share of all the development traffic for a narrow, local road used by our families.
  2. Until at least 2020 we will receive a much larger proportion of traffic because the link road to the A419 will be open to construction traffic only. The upgrade of this road is not funded in the S.106 agreement and there is great suspicion that it will never be upgraded.
  3. £60,000 is currently all that’s proposed to mitigate Oakhurst Way with two crossings. This is less than the administrative fee the developers had paid to the Council.
  4. There is no primary school agreed in phase 1 of the development when our children are struggling to find places at the local schools already.
  5. The Bus Rapid Transit may be routed down Oakhurst Way. BRT requires bus lanes to prioritise the buses over cars. There is no funding for the BRT to be successful.
The Head of Planning at SBC described the deal as fair!!
The approval of this application will continue to have a wide-reaching impact in North Swindon for many years to come. Please do not be fooled by any rhetoric that there is a victory for our community or our neighbouring areas.
The only small consolation from this is that we have a period until the 13th September 2012 to ensure that the developer delivers some additional money to reduce the harm from the development. Haydon Wick Parish Council has made it clear that this should not involve widening Oakhurst Way or detrimentally affecting the open space on the road.
ORA firmly believe that we are in this situation because the ward councillors in the North did not engage with the Oakhurst community. The ORA committee have had an outstanding invitation to our ward councillors to come and talk to us about the membership’s concerns since January 2011. All of our concerns should have been respectfully addressed before this application came before the planning committee. ORA have widely networked with many community representatives, hosted public meetings for everyone, invited elected representatives to our meetings, communicated the facts to the local media and provided information to our membership.
We would like to thank you all for your valuable contribution to our campaign. We will continue to work on your behalf in this matter and will be sending out a questionnaire to the Oakhurst community to see if you have any suggestions about how to reduce the harm along Oakhurst Way and Garsington Drive. We will send your comments to the local councillors in the North so that they feed these into any discussions. We hope our councillors will listen to you this time.
Finally, we would like to thank Haydon Wick Parish Council for their assistance throughout the campaign and for taking our views into account all the way through the last two years.
We will be in touch with you shortly and continue to work hard to put your views forward.
Best wishes.
Paul Exell
Chair of ORA