Go-ahead for 1,550-home Swindon scheme on site allocated for 1,100 homes

Plans have been approved for a 1,550-home development on the edge of Swindon despite the number of units exceeding that allocated for the site in local policies and a recognition from planners that the scheme would fall "significantly short" in terms of infrastructure provision.

A masterplan visualisation of the proposals (pic: Capital Land Property Group)
A masterplan visualisation of the proposals (pic: Capital Land Property Group)

At a meeting yesterday, Swindon Borough Council's planning committee approved outline plans for the Great Stall East development at South Marston, a village just outside the Wiltshire town. Swindon-based property developer Capital Land Property Group is behind the scheme.

Alongside the homes, the development would include an "education campus", sports pitches, a park-and-ride scheme and a local centre.

The greenfield site forms part of the New Eastern Villages (NEV) allocation set out in the council's adopted local plan, intended to provide around 8,000 homes, 40 hectares of employment land and associated retail, community, education and leisure uses.

A planning committee report by officers noted that, whilst the development accorded broadly with the allocation in the local plan, the "scale of development proposed of 1,550 homes exceeds the scale of development (1,100 dwellings) that was anticipated in the NEV Planning Obligations supplementary planning document (NEVPO SPD)".

However, the report advised: "Whilst the scale of development exceeds the level anticipated in the adopted NEVPO SPD, taking account of the fact that the site is required to deliver significant infrastructure necessary for sustainable development across the NEV, it is considered that the revised proposals have broadly addressed the sustainable development principles set out in local plan policies and within the adopted supplementary planning documents."

The report also advised that the applicant was proposing a 15 per cent affordable housing rate. "Whilst this does not accord with policy HA2 that refers to 30 per cent provision, subject to viability, ... this proposal is acceptable based on the development's viability which is reduced in view of the land made available for strategic infrastructure", the report said.

Planners also advised that the "the infrastructure package falls significantly short of the full expectations detailed" in the NEVPO SPD.

However, it added that the site "is constrained by the need to provide land for necessary strategic infrastructure for the wider NEV, including the secondary school and park and ride.

"Therefore, whilst these issues, including the proposals for affordable housing are finely balanced, the site is a key part of the council's development strategy, necessary to bring forward the wider NEV, as a sustainable new community."

The report concluded that, "on the basis of the development plan, the proposal is broadly aligned with the requirements of the local plan".

While there were "shortcomings with regard to heritage impacts, green infrastructure, design and infrastructure" that did not fully accord with local planning policy, the report said that, on balance "and having regard to the viability appraisal, it is accepted that there is limited potential for increased compliance [with these policies] ... the proposal overall is considered to accord with the objectives of the development plan as a whole".

Jamie Francis, Capital Land director, said: “Securing planning permission for Great Stall East is the result of several years of detailed technical and design work and it follows very constructive and collaborative meetings with Swindon Council, not to mention a public consultation."

In June, Swindon Council approved plans for a 2,500-home phase of the NEV scheme, while in December last year, the council approved plans for a 2.5km link road to help support the NEV.

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