Brokenshire blocks 2,600-home Swindon scheme over heritage concerns

The housing secretary has refused plans for a 2,600-home development on a site allocated for residential development in a Wiltshire council's local plan after concluding that the scheme's 'less than substantial' harm to a scheduled monument was not outweighed by its benefits.

Land near Wanborough (pic: Brian Robert Marshall via Geograph)
Land near Wanborough (pic: Brian Robert Marshall via Geograph)

Developer Ainscough Strategic Land’s proposals include 2,600 homes; up to 1,765 square metres of community/retail uses; up to 3,000 square metres of business/employment use, and a primary school.

Alongside the wider outline masterplan application, the developer also submitted plans for the scheme’s 200-home first phase.

The site is part of Swindon Borough Council’s local plan New Eastern Villages strategic land allocation.

However, the council refused the plans in 2016 on grounds including that the scheme would have a "harmful impact" on the setting and significance of the nearby Wanborough Roman Town scheduled monument.

"The application fails to provide adequate and accessible services and facilities for the occupiers of the new development and does not deliver a balanced, sustainable development which respects the social, environmental and economic demands placed upon it", a decision letter said.

After the applicant subsequently appealed the decision, planning inspector Diane Lewis recommended that the appeal should be dismissed, after finding that the plans would have unacceptable impacts.

A decision letter issued on behalf of secretary of state James Brokenshire this week agreed with Lewis’ recommendation.

The letter said Brokenshire agreed with Lewis that the development of the site would result in new housing, including affordable homes, "in an area where there is considerably less than a five year supply". This carried "significant weight", the letter said.

He further agreed that "economic benefits and employment would be generated through the construction period, from the development of business, service and community uses and as a result of the increase in population".

The letter said Brokenshire agreed with the inspector that the identified harm to the scheduled monument "has considerable importance and weight".

"He further agrees that in the terms of the National Planning Policy Framework, the proposal would lead to less than substantial harm to the significance of the scheduled monument and … this harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal", the letter said.

The letter said that, having weighed these up, Brokenshire agreed with the inspector that "the less than substantial harm to the significance of the scheduled monument is not outweighed by the public benefits of the proposal".

The decision letter said Brokenshire agreed with the inspector "that the council’s case is strong in that the vast majority of public benefits could be realised without harm to the scheduled monument, given the very small number of housing units affected and the potential for relocating them elsewhere within the wider site".

Both appeals were dismissed.

The 2,600-home appeal decision letter can be found by clicking the link below 

The 200-home appeal decision letter can be found by clicking the link below


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