Go-ahead for Swindon link road to help unlock 8,000-home scheme

Plans have been approved for a 2.5km link road to help deliver proposals for 8,000 new homes on the eastern edge of Swindon in Wiltshire.

Commonhead Roundabout, Swindon (pic: Jonathan Billinger via Geograph)
Commonhead Roundabout, Swindon (pic: Jonathan Billinger via Geograph)

Swindon Borough Council yesterday approved its own plans for the Southern Connector Road (SCR) which forms part of the strategic transport package for the New Eastern Villages (NEV) site allocation, as identified by the council’s 2015 local plan.

According to a planning report, the NEV is planned to provide around 8,000 homes, 40 hectares of employment land and associated retail, community, education and leisure uses.

The report said the new road would link the A419 Commonhead Roundabout to the proposed NEV.

The application, submitted by the council, sought consent for the new road alongside works including improvements to the existing Commonhead Roundabout and Pack Hill, new junctions with Pack Hill, The Marsh and Wanborough Road, new footway/cycleway and associated earthworks, drainage works and landscaping.

The report said the local plan "outlines the key policy requirements to enable the delivery of the NEV, including the need for a link from the Commonhead Junction to the NEV".

It also added that, "given the government’s objective to significantly boost the supply of homes … the proposed development advances the objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) through supporting the delivery of housing within the NEV that is planned to deliver about 8,000 homes, making a significant contribution to meeting the borough's housing supply…".

Officers attributed "significant weight" to this in the decision making process.

Planners also noted that a number of the environmental improvements were proposed as part of the scheme, including five hectares of woodland tree planting and 3.3km of hedgerow planting.

The report said these measures "would also contribute to mitigating the impact of the proposed development on the heritage assets and landscape".

The document also noted that the application "identifies a biodiversity net gain as a result from the proposed development, therefore supporting the objectives of [the NPPF and local plan]".

Planners concluded that "less than substantial harm" from the scheme in relation to heritage assets, and the loss of a veteran tree, were considered to be outweighed by its benefits.

Last month, the government awarded Swindon Borough Council £18.9 million of Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) cash to help pay for the road. 

In April, revised plans were submitted for up to 2,500 homes as part of the NEV scheme, after a previous planning application for the site was refused last year by the secretary of state.

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