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:
"We have heard from the officers that there is no justifiable legal grounds for refusal and any decision that way will only lead to the decision being overturned by the planning inspectorate costing our town both legal fees and loss of developer contributions. This decision is bigger than this one committee. The decision has to be one that benefits all of Swindon. We cannot afford to lose valuable construction jobs..,we cannot afford to lose revenue for the Council...we cannot afford to be in a place where developers can come in and build where they like. I therefore propose that the planning application is granted with extra conditions attached".Earlier in the meeting Cllr Elliott said:
"These plans clearly state that 45% of the traffic will be directed along Oakhurst Way Not only do I believe this to be an underestimation in terms of percentage" but "the total number of vehicles that has been suggested arising from the development is very low. During busy periods Oakhurst Way is difficult to get down as it is. If the traffic increases by only the amount the planning application suggests then even this will cause Oakhurst Way a negative knock-back on residents along the road and in the vicinity. To suggest that this can be mitigated by two crossings is poorly thought out. Extra crossings may help with pedestrian safety, they do not alleviate congestion."The questions that the ORA members may wish to ask are:
Is there any amount of money that can mitigate the impact of this development on Oakhurst Way or Garsington Drive? Did the Priory Vale councillors take independent legal advice about whether there were grounds for appeal and, if so, can the community see it? Did Cllr Elliott attend the Ridgeway Farm appeal where one of QCs made representations that Tadpole Farm should not go ahead? How much money would Oakhurst Way have lost had the development been refused and won on appeal by the developers? Will the Purton/Iffley Road, promised as part of our development and no longer in the Council's capital expenditure programme, be delivered by future applications on this site if the developers do not agree the extra conditions? What is the likelihood that the conditions won't be agreed to by the developers and by SBC's planning department? Were there other councillors who could have recommended approval with conditions other than one from Priory Vale? Did the councillor recognise the impact that this would have on the area?