To recap, the Purton Neighbourhood Plan advocated two key objectives for future housing:
- Provide a limited amount of new housing to meet local needs; and
- Keep all new developments smaller than 40 homes.
A critical point is that the Plan is to provide for the period up to 2026.
Another critical point was that “A new housing development of more than 40 houses in the Parish would not be supported (from the Purton Parish Housing Needs Survey January 2012 and further substantiated in the Purton Parish Plan 2014).
Unfortunately, the first application did not comply with the Neighbourhood Plan (no potential to access the land behind the development for a possible road in due course to Reid’s Piece, and no bungalows). Despite the parish council and the neighbourhood planning team objecting to this, Wiltshire Council planners gave it the go ahead. This was very disappointing.
Now, others are expressing interest in the area. There was an Exhibition (rather than a Public Consultation) recently with a few posters outlining the intentions. There was little actual detail since the exhibitors were land agents rather than developers, so it was all nice-sounding intentions rather than hard detail. If the land agents do submit an outline application, and it is successful, then the option will be sold on to a developer.
There are some concerns with this of course since there is the risk that when an agent makes an application and then sells that outcome onto a developer that the developer then begins to argue that some of the conditions on the application are not feasible and begins to modify them and seek changes. Once an outline approval is given it is often quite hard to stop such changes being made. A key concern in this regard is that the road connection to Reid’s Piece is never made and is merely a “pedestrian link” as stated on one of the posters. Another, is that the current low-medium density of houses is found to be non-viable and the developer wants to add more houses (perhaps on the scale of the existing nearby application) and a third is to reduce the number of affordable homes.
We have seen this sort of thing before.
At the Exhibition, the posters indicated that some of the proposed land for development is well outside the settlement boundary and most of the area of search proposed in the Neighbourhood Plan. It is.
The Neighbourhood Plan is very careful to plan for the future needs to 2026. This proposal attempts to use up all the land immediately. Given this, the number of houses proposed (85) will clearly be beyond Purton’s demand in the short term. The land in effect could become additional housing for Swindon. This was never the intention of the Neighbourhood Plan.
So, this interest in the Land at Restrop is far too soon. We will have to wait and see what the land agents actually propose…