Lydiard Tregoz Parish Council unanimously decided to continue their support for Taylor Wimpey’s controversial planning application to build 48 new homes in Lydiard Park.
Tregoz Parish Council allocated five minutes for Kevin Fisher, spokesperson for the Lydiard Heritage Action Group, to address their meeting yesteday evening. A further five minutes was allocated for councillors to ask questions, although in reality the debate lasted slightly longer, continuing for several minutes after the Tregoz egg-timer had gone off.
Mr Fisher asked Tregoz Parish Council to reconsider their decision to back the Taylor Wimpey application in view of the overwhelming objections to the proposals. (Of 601 representation letters, just two people had written in support. Robert Buckland and James Gray MP were against the proposals, as were Lydiard Millicent Parish Council and Swindon Borough Council).
However, the Tregoz Parish Council Chairman said he thought Mr Fisher was being “very presumptious” in his request. It was not Mr Fisher’s place to try to talk the Parish Council out of a decision they had made at the last Parish Council meeting, and his attitude was “disgraceful.”
Mr Fisher explained that he, and a lot of other people, were struggling to understand the reasons behind Tregoz’s support for the application. That was the rationale behind his requests for information made under the Freedom of Information Act. It should be seen as a data gathering exercise, and he refuted suggestions made at the meeting that he was accusing councillors of any impropriety. He offered to put the correspondence on Shaw Residents Association’s website so that people could make up their own minds.
Tregoz Parish Council also took issue with the report which appeared in the Swindon Advertiser concerning their decision. According to one councillor, “blatant lies” had been published. Legal action was also mentioned. The Chairman of the Parish Council said he had raised this issue with the Swindon Advertiser, and was disappointed in the stance they had taken.
Mr Fisher said that Lydiard Tregoz Parish Council risked endorsing “the first and most significant domino” in the destruction of the rural buffer. Taylor Wimpey’s application, if granted, would pave “the way for the subsequent development of all the land west of Swindon up to and including Hook village.”
However, Lydiard Tregoz refuted this, maintaining that the gifted land from Taylor Wimpey would provide a valuable buffer between Swindon and the surrounding villages.
Lydiard Millicent “have missed a trick by not grabbing it with both hands,” one councillor said, referring to the proposed gift from Taylor Wimpey.
Mr Fisher did not accept this. He said that the land offered was unlikley to ever be built on because of its heritage status and the risk of flooding. In effect, Taylor Wimpey would be giving nothing of any value away. However, if they were successful on this sensitive location, then they could be confident they would be successful elsewhere. The buffer between Swindon and the villages to the west would then be open to development. Hence, his use of the term domino-effect.
The “gift” land in question is shown in the sketch above. It covers some fields to the south and west of Lydiard Millicent, but leaves open the possibility of developers moving in on land on the other side of Tewkesbury Way and Holborn. One area between Lydiard Stud and the Mews is already the subject of an application by Custom Land for up to 60 new homes.
One Tregoz Councillor said the Taylor Wimpey houses would meet their parish’s housing needs. They were constrained elsewhere in the parish because of the risk of flooding. However, objectors to Taylor Wimpey’s proposals maintain that the proposed development would increase the risk of flooding to Spencer Close and other areas.
Lydiard Tregoz said that they had left the New V Neighbourhood because other parishes were doing so and they could better further their residents’ interests by going it alone. They refuted any suggestion that their departure had been because of conditions imposed by Taylor Wimpey on the gifted land.
(In the main body of the meeting, it was explained that the draft neighbourhood plan would not be available for Mr Fisher’s FOIA request as it was still in draft).
The question and answer time concluded with the councillors unanimously agreeing to continue their support for the development, and the Chairman telling Mr Fisher, “You have your answer there. You can’t keep repeating stuff.”