Primegate Properties (Hooknorth) Ltd, on behalf of Bovis Homes, has taken its case to build up to 175 properties on land off Hook Street to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol after Swindon Council refused planning permission last year.Now, I happen to know Hook Street very well. It goes from near Freshbrook in the giant housing area known as West Swindon to the village of Hook. It's a good bike ride because it's not quite flat, but instead has a very slight incline, which means that you get some good exercise on your way out from West Swindon.
The news has rattled most families living close to the site who are opposed to the possible development of the area.
Robert Buckland, the MP for the area, has been vocal about his opposition to the plans and is urging anyone who wishes to make a comment on the proposals to do so before it’s too late.Nonsense. All that inspectorate will do is to look at the planning application in terms of the law. I happen to think this is a very good thing, because I believe in essential liberty and that councillors should have a damn good reason to stop someone building on the land they bought, and not simply be able to stop it on a whim.
He said: “There is a massive feeling in the area about this – people don’t think it is right.
“Swindon Borough Council refused planning permission but the developers have now taken it to the planning inspectors.
“We definitely feel that decisions like this should be made, and made to stick, at a local level and not by some external body miles down the road in Bristol.
“The proposal would mean green space close to Lydiard Park becoming a housing estate.
There's already housing estate backing onto Lydiard Park called Grange Park and it's massive.
“I am opposed to this development for a number of reasons.
“Firstly, it would mean loss of open space adjacent to the environmentally sensitive country park. Secondly, the roads in this area are totally inadequate to handle the extra traffic and thirdly, local infrastructure such as schools and community facilities could not cope with the influx of new residents.”
Firstly, I have no idea what is "environmentally sensitive" about Lydiard Park, but considering that it already backs onto a housing estate, has a road going past it and one into it, has thousands of people walking around it or playing football on a summers day who can be served coffee and ice cream, and a couple of times a year has orchestral and rock concerts with fireworks, then I think it can cope with a few extra houses near it.
Secondly, Hook Street is pretty much empty. I used to drive on it and even in the morning, it's empty. As for community facilities, I think we can cope with the offspring of 170 households to go with the 75,000 we already have.