Local residents are joining forces to fight development proposals, which they fear could spoil Lydiard Park and threaten Lydiard Millicent’s village character.
Lydiard Heritage Action Group formed
A number of community organisations are opposed to the latest proposals. These include Shaw Residents Association, the Friends of Lydiard Park, the Lydiard Park Heritage Trust, together with other Swindon and Lydiard Millicent residents. In a recent development, they have come together under the banner of the Lydiard Heritage Action Group, and are urging everyone to object to the proposals.
Over 100 objections have already been lodged with Wiltshire Council.
More houses, but is this the best place for them?
Taylor Wimpey are applying for planning permission for 48 houses on land off Tewkesbury Way. The proposal is for 29 two to four open market bedroom houses, and nineteen houses for social renting. The latter comprises a compulsory 40% affordable housing element.
Taylor Wimpey have owned the site for 40 years. Their latest application comes after a refusal to develop the site in 1988, and, more recently a series of public consultation exercises.
Objectors say that the proposals will destroy the unique nature of Lydiard Park, which, they emphasise is a country park, and should not be allowed to become just a green space in an urban sprawl.
Sarah Finch-Crisp, who led the Lydiard Park Restoration Project, believes that the proposals would destroy the ‘essential setting’ of Lydiard Park. The houses would be in full view of St. Mary’s Church and the main drive to Lydiard House. ‘Such development will inevitably destroy the tranquillity of this historic rural environment and bring the town to Lydiard’s doorstep,’ she says.
A pincher movement around Lydiard Millicent
There is a real fear that, if granted, permission will open the floodgate for further development. Many people choose to live in Lydiard because of its distinctive village feel. They do not want to be part of an urban conurbation, and value the surrounding countryside.
Another developer, Custom Land, has plans to develop land on the other side of the road, close to Holborn. Coupled with Taylor Wimpey’s proposals, this could see West Swindon spill over into what used to be the Green Belt.
Mike Sharp, a Lydiard Millicent resident, describes Taylor Wimpey’s proposal as part of a pincer movement when taken into context with Custom Land’s plans. He says, it “is a Trojan horse application, [and] if approved, many more fields around Lydiard Park and all the open space between Swindon, Lydiard Millicent, Hook and other outlying villages will fall to developers”.
Taylor Wimpey’s case
Taylor Wimpey, on the other hand, point out that their proposed development is outside of the registered park itself. They also maintain that they are only building on 11% of the land that they own in Lydiard, and have offered to gift surrounding fields to the local community. This, they say, would ensure that they are never built on.
To date, that’s an offer that has not been very warmly received. Objectors point out that the land is marginal, and would not be suitable for development in any event.
Objectors also say that the proposals are contrary to Swindon and Wiltshire’s planning policies. However, Taylor Wimpey say that their proposals would provide much needed housing, and that the council cannot show a five-year housing supply. If so, the policies would be considered out-of-date, giving the developer a much greater chance of success.
You can read more about Taylor Wimpey’s case at their website, and the Lydiard Heritage Action Group on Shaw Resident’s Association website.