Plans approved for 2,500-home Swindon urban extension

Swindon Borough Council has approved plans for a 2,500-home urban extension, after officers advised that heritage concerns which led to a 2018 ministerial refusal of previous proposals for the site had been overcome by the developer removing an area of housing close to the remains of a Roman town.

A visualisation of part of the Swindon scheme (pic: Ainscough Strategic Land)
A visualisation of part of the Swindon scheme (pic: Ainscough Strategic Land)

Ainscough Strategic Land is behind the outline application for the 169-hectare site which sits on the eastern edge of the Wiltshire town. The greenfield site forms part of the New Eastern Villages (NEV) allocation, as set out in the council's adopted local plan.

The application seeks consent for up to 2,500 homes; up to 1,780 square metres of community/retail uses; up to 2,500 square metres of employment use; sports facilities; two primary schools; green infrastructure; access road corridors; and associated works.

Some 20 per cent of the homes would be classed as affordable, a planning report said, which was the "maximum achievable based on a comprehensive viability assessment".

Previous plans for the site were refused in 2018 on appeal by the former housing secretary James Brokenshire after he concluded that the scheme's "less than substantial" harm to the nearby Wanborough Roman Town scheduled monument and other heritage impacts was not outweighed by its benefits.

On the heritage impacts of the latest application, planners advised that the previous proposals included development to the north of a tree lined access route to an existing farmhouse on the site "and would have been very close to the scheduled monument".

It advised that this area of housing had been omitted from the latest application and the land would be left open for recreational use.

The report added that the application details "clarify that the western edge of the proposed housing area, to the south of the tree lined avenue, would be very low density, two storey housing and that it would be set away from the boundary with the scheduled monument".

Planners said the government's heritage advisor Historic England and the council's archaeological consultant "are of the view that this revised arrangement would be satisfactory".

"Some harm to the open setting would result but this would be limited and result in less than substantial harm to the significance of the heritage asset," the report advised.

The report said that "there is an acknowledged need to meet the borough's housing and economic requirements for growth in accordance with the Swindon Borough Local Plan 2026".

It added that the application is in conformity with the local plan, "being an important and significant part of the NEV strategic allocation" and also "meets the detailed requirements of the local plan in terms of demonstrating sustainability and broad compliance with relevant policies, including that it will satisfactorily mitigate the overall impacts of the development".

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