Swinley Drive – Ridgeway Farm junction
5 September 2016
There is some confusion about the road layout plans at the top of Swinley Drive. We have been told by Wiltshire Highways that the current changes are temporary and that some time in the future the road between Swinley Drive roundabout and Sparcells Roundabout will close.
However, is the new junction madness, good planning or something else? When Taylor Wimpey won outline planning permission at the public Inquiry, the design included the closure of the road between the roundabout at the top of Swinley Drive and Sparcells / Mead Way. Instead all traffic will have to go through the new housing estate. There are strong arguments in support of keeping that road open or closing it – that is not the point right now.
Surely an ‘interim’ junction would simply have added one more exit from the existing three exit roundabout – instead the ‘interim’ design is much more complex, expensive, some say dangerous and potentially permanent. On the latter point, Taylor Wimpey have refused all requests from the SRA for road changes / improvements to Ridgeway Farm telling us that they MUST build per the design won at appeal.
Ridgeway Farm School – Sponsor needed
18 May 2015
Wiltshire council are looking for a sponsor for the, yet to be built, 210 pupil size primary school on Ridgeway Farm. This document provides further details and gives an operational date for the new school as September 2016.
The Environment agency and Wiltshire highways object to Ridgeway Farm phase two application
21 January 2015
On January 9 2015, the Environment Agency issued a formal objection to this application. It would seem Taylor Wimpey have failed to include surface water drainage management in the application. In addition the micro-drainage calculations provided are for phase one and not phase two, they have failed to demonstrate the development will not contribute to an increased flood risk and there is no detail of how runoff from dwellings would be conveyed to the detention basin. The environment agency conclude with the words “we must raise objection as there is too much uncertainty as to whether flood risk can be safely managed”.
On the 8th January 2015, Wiltshire Highways issued objections with the opening line “I do not consider that highway pre-application advice has largely been taken into account”.
On the controversial issue of the shared space at the central square it states “it has been previously raised with the developer that the central square requires a full road safety audit”. In addition to this, Taylor Wimpey’s application contains just one parking space for twelve 2-bed homes were “the site is also located in close proximity to the central square and school”. It goes on to highlight that road widths and shared surfaces around the secondary square and primary school are, amongst many other problems, too narrow and concludes with the sentence “this whole area needs to be revised”.
Other points include a lack of detail on visibility at junctions, over 50 homes with poor visibility for “vehicles emerging from driveways”, an unacceptable narrowing of a road “by virtue of a front garden”, insufficient “turning heads” in front of 38 properties, 9 parking spaces with insufficient space to reverse out, junction widths along the spine road being too narrow or “sub-standard”, vehicle tracking at these junctions not demonstrating refuse vehicle movement in all directions, width of road access into flats insufficient, a need for “no reversing onto the spine road” from some units not being accommodated, a lack of a pedestrian footpath along a section of road serving 50 houses, no detail on traffic calming measures for the Casa Paulo junction and a lack of detail on 20mph home zones.
The SRA has been consistent in our views that insufficient road widths, lack of parking spaces and a shared space will result in travel chaos for both Ridgeway Farm residents and drivers needing to get to and from villages such as Purton, Cricklade and Lydiard Millicent. Reviewing all the road and parking related issues listed above it would seem Taylor Wimpey not only rejects our views but pours scorn on them by issuing plans that seem at best cynical. Whilst we accept that design work for such developments is complex and some mistakes or oversights are likely, the nature of many issues highlighted by the environment agency and Wiltshire highways appears to indicate one of two things: either this developer does not have the skill sets necessary for such large scale developments or they have an arrogant and flagrant disregard for the quality of life of its own clients and surrounding communities.
SRA Objection to Phase Two Ridgeway Farm
3 December 2014
The Shaw Residents Association notes the application for phase two of Ridgeway Farm by Taylor Wimpey meets the same parking bay criteria as phase one. Since we strongly objected to the phase one application on those grounds, we would like to reiterate our position of opposition to the proposals for phase two on the same grounds. We remain convinced that the design of the spine road, the shared space at the village centre and insufficient parking bays will lead to traffic chaos within the new estate and roads around West Swindon.
Taylor Wimpey put in Application for Phase Two of Ridgeway Farm
16 November 2014
Consisting of 422 houses, Taylor Wimpey have completed their application for phase two of Ridgeway Farm / West point. To view the documents, click here and put 14/10200 into the application number. Deadline for comments is December 11th. We will post our views on this web site once finalised.
The Flawed Ridgeway Farm Road Design
29 August 2014
In March 2013, the SRA wrote to Taylor Wimpey with our concerns about the design of the spine road through the centre of Ridgeway Farm (concerns that had also been raised during the seven day public Inquiry in April 2012). This road will not only service the estate but will also act as the access road in and out of Swindon from the west (e.g. Cricklade and Purton). Taylor Wimpey chose this design in preference to providing a road around the estate for through traffic. As a result, traffic calming measures are required in an effort to make the road safe for all. The measures to be implemented by the developer include making the spine road just 6.5m wide (Swinley drive is 6.75m wide) and the use of a ‘shared space’ at the village centre.
In May 2013 the SRA issued its ‘gridlock report’ which concluded that a mixture of on-road parking, 60+ homes fronting the spine road, numerous pedestrian crossings and a shared space at the village centre that will see over 900 vehicles navigating it during the AM peak hour and over 1200 during the pm peak hour, will result in major disruption to traffic flow across the Sparcells roundabout, ultimately leading to complete gridlock on Mead Way. In July 2013, we sent an objection to the planning application for the first 218 homes, citing the fact that the proposal contained 18% fewer parking bays than required by Wiltshire Councils own guidelines. Along with our gridlock report, our objections were disregarded and planning permission was granted.
In July 2014 we sent an objection to the formal planning application for the proposed shared space at the village centre as we believe the concept is flawed for a junction with the traffic volumes predicted and located right next to a primary school.
The negative public reaction to the Regent Circus shared space design and injury to a pedestrian, as reported by the Swindon Advertiser on the 19th August 2014, within weeks of its implementation, is a flavour of what is to come from Taylor Wimpey’s development. We remain convinced that the design of Ridgeway Farm, with a road carrying through traffic in and out of Swindon running through its centre, is deeply flawed and will lead to traffic congestion, more rat run traffic through West Swindon and serious accidents.
Ridgeway Farm Shared Space Planning Application
30 July 2014
Taylor Wimpey has put in their planning application for phase two of the infrastructure. This includes the application for a ‘shared space’ (traffic and pedestrians mingle together) at the village centre. The SRA believes the concept to be flawed for a junction right next to a primary school and likely to experience well over 1200 vehicles traversing it during the PM peak hour. Click here for a copy of our position statement and here for the road layout drawings.
A full set of documents can be found here.
Ridgeway Farm Archaeological Open Day
7 June 2014
Taylor Wimpey is holding an open day on 21 June for residents to discuss the Iron Age findings on the site. Click here for an Advertiser Article providing more detail.
Taylor Wimpey Archaeology Press Release
23 May 2014
Following a request for information by the SRA to Taylor Wimpey, we received this email:
“The archaeological investigation work has been continuing at Ridgeway Farm for several months and is on-going. We have now decided to extend the project to cover a wider area. The investigation work began on land where the second phase of homes is set to be built and we are now extending the area for the project by 0.5 hectares to the north and north west of the area where we have been focusing. The work is being carried out by specialist contractors, who have made some interesting finds – these finds are currently being examined, and we will bring you more detail on them in future editions of our Cornerstone newsletter on Ridgeway Farm”.
Archaeological Site found at Ridgeway Farm
17 May 2014
According to the County Archaeologist the remains of an Iron Age round house, burial ground and several other features have been discovered, suggesting there was once a small rural farmstead there. Excavations are almost complete and then it will be built over. The full archaeological report, prepared in 2011, can be found here.
The SRA view is this –
Ridgeway Farm to Take Until 2023 to Complete
20 April 2014
This housing land supply statement from WCC on page 21 provides details of house builds on Ridgeway Farm – it shows the project will not be completed until 2023 – meaning it will take nearly TEN years to build and not the FIVE as committed by Taylor Wimpey during the planning Inquiry. This number is significant since it was argued by the developer that Swindon was not building enough houses in the next five years (from 2013) and they could complete all 700 in that period – it was this argument that won them the appeal! Indeed in this ‘proof of evidence’ provided on behalf of Taylor Wimpey to the Inquiry, it was stated on page 61 that Ridgeway Farm could deliver 450 houses by 2016 – the reality is it will be 2021 before it delivers that many. The ‘statement of common ground’ agreed between the developer and WCC / SBC showed 570 completions by March 2016. Even allowing for a one year delay in final planning approval, this is a schedule that is FOUR to FIVE years late!
27 February 2014
An organisation called ‘Planning Resource’ has produced a list of the ten largest unplanned developments in the UK since the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) was introduced – Ridgeway Farm is listed as number four in size. See picture.
Primary School Delayed by 1 Year
12 February 2014
It was originally intended to have the primary school open within 18 months of the start of the development. The SRA have learned that it may now be June 2016 before the school opens. Based on the advised house build rate, we understand about 200 homes will have been completed by the time the school is open for business. Using government numbers to predict the number of primary school age children living in these 200 new homes, we estimate the number to be about 46. We wonder what contingencies Swindon and Wiltshire have in place to accommodate these children?
The SRA position on this is as follows: ““timing the opening of a new school in a new housing estate is always a careful balancing act – too early and it is not economically viable or it fills with pupils from outside the intended catchment zone – too late and existing schools become oversubscribed and it takes some years for the children within the new estate to switch to the new school, putting pressure on road infrastructure. We are informed that the build rate for houses on Ridgeway farm is currently as predicted during the planning Inquiry and yet there is a negotiation underway to delay the school by one year from the schedule agreed at the Inquiry. This raises two question, first – who within SBC is ensuring the delay will not negatively affect west and north Swindon residents in terms of available primary school places within their communities and, second – how is it this aspect of the proposal agreed by the Inquiry can be changed and yet we were categorically told by the developer and Wiltshire councillors alike that other aspects such as the spine road width, could not be changed?”
4 February 2014
Site preparation works, provision of the access, laying of services, construction of the respective site compounds etc. are underway in advance of the development in full commencing. Works will follow for the construction of the two sales complexes that will support Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire on the eastern side of the spine road (plots 142 – 146) and Taylor Wimpey Bristol on the western side of the spine road (plots 33 – 36). The plan is for the sales centres to be available in the summer. TW expect to deliver about 50 homes by the end of 2014 and another 90 in 2015 with a similar number from then on. They are currently working on the phase 2 application which relates to the remaining 482 houses (but not the care home adjacent to the Swinley Drive extension) and it is anticipated that this application to be lodged within the next 4 weeks.
Bulldozers Move in
17 January 2014
Work has started on the main access road to the site. We have been trying to get a schedule of work from Taylor Wimpey since December 10th last year with no success. The individual that was managing the project has left the company and it seems no-one else is able to provide the information requested….
The first 218 houses will be built with the reduced spine road width and, in the SRA’s opinion, insufficient parking facilities. Our objections were ignored by Wiltshire Council when they granted permission to build. However, we will remain engaged with the development as much as we can since there are still nearly 500 more homes that will require planning permission and, if the application for these falls short in any way, we will put in an objection.
The rest of this page is split into the following subjects:
1. Objections to infrastructure and first 218 houses applications
2. Planning Applications for school, infrastructure and first 218 houses
3. SRA ‘Gridlock’ Report
4. Spine Road Design
5. Taylor Wimpey Public Consultation
6. Public Inquiry
1. Objections to infrastructure and first 218 houses applications
Planning Permission Granted
10 December 2013
On receipt of a letter withdrawing network rails objection, Wiltshire council have granted permission for the first 218 homes and permission for the road infrastructure. In an officers report the SRA position has been documented well (page 6) and concludes with the words “the Shaw RA is firmly of the view that the form, scale and layout of the proposals and related highway and vehicular infrastructure will have a harmful impact on the local transport network and traffic movement in the locality to the detriment of the local community“. On the same page, similar comments can be found from Robert Buckland MP. Planning permission has been granted even though the spine road width remains narrower than was presented to the Inquiry and parking bays are woefully short of Wiltshire’s own guidelines. It is perhaps a sad indictment of the democracy in which we live whereby objections from large companies (Thames Water, Network Rail etc.) are acted on and those of ordinary people and elected representatives are largely ignored.
3 December 2013
Scottish and Southern Electricity have withdrawn their objection stating their letter was a standard one they send to all such developments and that their concerns do not apply in this instance! Wiltshire highways officers, though dissatisfied with the location of the proposed bus stops, have chosen to withdraw the objection provided new residents are informed that bus stops will be put in, but the precise locations have yet to be agreed. Thames Water has withdrawn their objection again and ecological objections have also been withdrawn.
Wiltshire officers remain concerned about drainage swale along the railway embankment and there is no update on Wiltshire’ web site from Network Rail, so it is assumed their objection has not yet been satisfied.
20 November 2013
Taylor Wimpey has issued many new documents which include; the overlooked bus stops and a map of protected calcareous grassland. A letter from Thames Water with a consent for the development to be connected to the public sewer, has been posted to the Wiltshire web site during November 2013 – however, the letter is dated 8 Feb 2013; is this yet another error on their behalf or are Taylor Wimpey wanting to push ahead with the development, in the face of water and waste capacity issues, by using a legal loophole this letter has created? This letter from DPDS implies they feel all is now in order and permission should be granted, but the letter is dated 31 October 2013 and many of the recent documents, posted in November, on the Wiltshire web site have a November date.
However, the decision expected by mid October has still not been made. Perhaps it is because it is not clear whether Thames Water have removed their objection on the grounds of insufficient capacity in waste and supply and, based on documents on Wiltshire’s web site and contrary to the DPDS letter, neither the Network Rail, Scottish and Southern Electricity or the environment agency objections have been withdrawn. The number of planned parking bays is still 21% short of Wiltshire’s own guidelines and the spine road width remains the ‘reduced in secret during a public inquiry’ size.
Wiltshire Highways Agency and Ecology Concerns
16 October 2013
It would seem Taylor Wimpey forgot to include any bus stops in their designs. Click here for the letter from Wiltshire’s highway agency. An ecology report has also highlighted the avoidable loss of calcareous grassland.
Environment Agency Object due to Inadequate Drainage Strategy
26 September 2013
Click here for the full letter. It includes sentences such as: “we would have expected the detailed design to be completed prior to this reserved matter application”, “to ensure that this development does not increase flood risk elsewhere”, “as a result, we cannot ascertain that runoff from the South Eastern part of this phase 1 development is not going to cause flooding elsewhere” and “our objection will be maintained until an adequate drainage strategy has been submitted”.
Thames Water Insufficient Capacity Confirmed
21 September 2013
Click here for an article on the Swindon Advertiser web site. In the article is quotes Thames Water as saying “We’ve looked into this case and found that our response in July stating that there were no issues with clean water supply was incorrect. This was down to human error and we’re sorry for any confusion caused”.
Here is the full story: Quote from Thames Water Rickmansworth dated 11 July: “Following initial investigation, Thames Water has identified an inability of the existing waste water infrastructure to accommodate the needs of this application” and “The existing water supply infrastructure has insufficient capacity to meet the additional demands for the proposed development”. Click here for the full document. In a document dated 22 July Rickmansworth wrote saying supply is OK but there is insufficient capacity to cope with waste. This coincided with Reading writing in a document also dated 22 July that they got their modelling wrong and all is ok. However, it was not clear whether they were endorsing the 22 July Rickmansworth letter, e.g. waste is still a problem or whether they were saying all is ok to both. On the 6 Sept Rickmansworth reissued their letter of 11 July stating there is insufficient capacity in supply and waste. Click here for a Link Magazine article and Click here for a Swindon Advertiser article. Note the quote from Thames Water ““Our assessments are subject to change over time as new information becomes available”.
To further complicate this story, on the 30 September, Rickmansworth wrote again to say supply is OK but there is still a problem with waste….
Scottish and Southern Electricity issue an Objection
19 September 2013
Click here for their letter, which concludes with “We would consider the granting of planning permission without further discussion and agreement as to how our equipment can be accommodated within the proposal to be unacceptable.” The full letter is over 13Mb in size and can be found on Wiltshire’s web site here
Network Rail Re-issue their Objection
18 September 2013
In a letter dated 17th September 2013, network rail have re-issued their objection. On 8th July, Network rail wrote: “After studying the proposals detailed in the application and consultation with our Drainage Engineer, Network Rail submits a holding objection to the above application”. Click here for the full document. (second page)..
Revised Plans for Ridgeway Farm: REDUCTION in Parking Bays
10 September 2013
Taylor Wimpey has submitted revised plans for the infrastructure and first houses. All objections to the spine road width and number of parking bays have been ignored by Wiltshire officers, Wiltshire councillors and Taylor Wimpey. The spine road will not be widened and instead of increasing the number of parking bays, the number has actually been DECREASED by 16. We urge all residents to send objections to the parking bay revised plans by 20 September. Email your comments to Brian Taylor firstname.lastname@example.org and include planning application number 13/01615/REM, your name and full address. Click here to download a copy of the objection sent by Kevin Fisher and here for an editable word version. Feel free to use some or all of the content in your objection.
Interim Access Plans
10 September 2013
The first stage of the build will be the south east corner – e.g. the area closest to Sparcells roundabout. An interim access road will be constructed as a T junction off the Purton road that runs from the Sparcells roundabout to the Swinley Drive roundabout. It will be very close to the Sparcells roundabout and opposite the footpath that emerges from Peatmoor onto Purton Road. Delays are inevitable with the increase in construction traffic and the number of vehicles making a right turn into the new development. Click here for a map of the plans.
Wiltshire Council Officers Issue Briefing Note – Best Described as a Whitewash
3 August 2013
Click here for the briefing note issued by Wiltshire officers. Wiltshire Councillor Jacqui Lay stated in an email to the SRA “I am sure we will now have further ones to ask which if I can have them sent to me I will endeavor to get the answers”. We wrote to Councillor Lay on August 1 and several times after that. Our questions remain unanswered. On 16 September we sent this note to the Wiltshire officer in charge. We have yet to receive a response.
Ridgeway Farm Applications will NOT go before full planning
22 July 2013
The SRA learned from a Wiltshire Councillor that it is “too late” to call the applications in and have them decided in public before the full planning committee. The SRA emailed Wiltshire councillors and officers on the 3, 8, 10, 12, 13 and 18 July asking for the date of the planning meeting with no response until Thursday 18 July email. This response told us that the applications had not been “called in”. On Monday 22 July we are told it is now too late to call them in – pretty obvious what should be read into that sequence of silence from Wiltshire. Click here for a Link Magazine article on the subject
2. Planning Applications
Three applications have been submitted by Taylor Wimpey; roads and infrastructure, first 218 homes and primary school.
Roads and Infrastructure Application
To view this application go to the North Wiltshire Planning portal and enter the ‘REM’ number 13/01141/REM in full into the “application quick search” or click here to go to the full list of documents. Scroll down to the ‘Spine Road design’ heading below to read the more on this subject. The SRA view is: “Documents submitted by Taylor Wimpey to the public Inquiry held in 2012 clearly noted the spine road through the site to be 7.3 metres wide. Unknown to the public, including those that attended the Inquiry, this design feature was changed in private meetings between Swindon and Wiltshire council and Taylor Wimpey whilst the Inquiry was underway. We believe this part of the public Inquiry process was deeply flawed and as such wish to register our objection to this infrastructure application and to the outcome of the Inquiry itself. We are of the firm opinion that the proposed road width, which is now an average of just 6.5 metres, together with parked vehicles along its length, many house frontages and pedestrian crossings will create serious traffic congestion problems both through the new development and on surrounding roads including Mead Way in Swindon and as such ask that the spine road be re-designed”
First 218 Homes Application
To view this application go to the North Wiltshire Planning portal and enter the ‘REM’ number 13/01615/REM in full into the “application quick search” or click here to go direct to the documents. It is planned that the first 218 homes to be built on Ridgeway Farm will have a total of 410 parking bays, 123 garages and 47 visitor spaces as described in the report. The Wiltshire local transport plan on page 27 describes how many bays should be allocated per household based on the number of bedrooms. By using this requirement and comparing it to the planned development, it states there should be a total of 501 bays split between the 218 households – the application is only allowing for 410 – e.g. 18% fewer spaces are being allocated than Wiltshire own guidelines require. The SRA believes on road parking is going to be a serious issue for this development and further contribute to the gridlock predictions we have made and are posted to this web site and recommend all readers submit an objection to this application. Click here for a spreadsheet giving the full parking analysis.
The SRA view is: The Wiltshire local transport plan on page 27 describes how many bays should be allocated per household based on the number of bedrooms. By using this requirement and comparing it to the planned development, it states there should be a total of 501 bays split between the 218 households – the application is only allowing for 410 – e.g. 18% fewer spaces are being allocated than Wiltshire’s own guidelines require. We believe on road parking is going to be a serious issue for this development and further exacerbate the road congestion predictions made by the SRA along with the dangers poor parking will pose to all road and pavement users. As such we object to this application on the grounds that it does not provide the required number of parking bays.”
What is a Garage?
Taylor Wimpey argue that they are exempt from building enough parking bays to meet Wiltshire County Council guidelines because their garages are big enough to fit a car in, therefore they can also count garages. Wiltshire guidelines on page 27 states “the council has decided not to include garages as part of the allocated parking provision” and goes on to state “in these exceptional circumstances” <garages can be counted>. It therefore follows that Taylor Wimpey are arguing that making a structure, whose role is to house a car, big enough to house a car is an exceptional circumstance. Does it therefore follow that a non-exceptional circumstance for this developer is to build a garage, whose role it is to house a car, with dimensions such that a car cannot be accommodated? Strangely page 47 of Taylor Wimpey’s own “Design and Access Statement” states “parking provision of 1 space per 1 bed dwelling; 2 spaces per 2 and 3 bed units, and; 3 spaces for 4 bed and above has been applied to this site”. This is precisely the Wiltshire guidelines and yet the fact is they have not “been applied to this site”. Perhaps this was just an unfortunate typo in Taylor Wimpey’s very glossy design and access statement?
Primary School Planning Application
To view the details click here and enter 13/00698/REM in the quick search box.
3. SRA ‘Gridlock’ Report
Ridgeway Farm = A Recipe for Gridlock – Report Published by the SRA
Representative traffic flow analysis conducted by the SRA indicates that the current design of the Ridgeway Farm spine road together with the closure of part of the B4553 (between Sparcells and Swinley Drive roundabouts) will lead to traffic backing up along its length during both peak hours. This is very likely to create gridlock on the north Sparcells roundabout during the morning and evening peak periods, blocking the flow of traffic in both directions between Mead Way and Thamesdown Drive – the main arterial route for traffic between West & North Swindon. Click here to read the full report
Responses to “Gridlock” Report
May – September 2013
- Swindon Borough Council – September 2013: SBC disagree with the predictions of gridlock and feel that “both Swinley Drive and Purton Road have the capacity to cope with the additional volume the development will create”. Click here to read the full response.
- Secretary of State – Eric Pickles: Mr. Pickles forwarded the report to the Department of Transport who have responded by saying it is outside of their responsibilities. Click here for a copy of the letter.
- Taylor Wimpey / DPDS: Took this position with respect to the SRA “Gridlock” report: “The paper prepared by SRA takes no account of the road network outside of the immediate Swinley Drive/Purton Road area. Therefore the conclusions it presents are unsound. The road connection from Swinley Drive to Sparcells Roundabout has been assessed as closed. The proposed spine road through Ridgeway Farm will form the main link replacing this road. There is no need to provide two roads connecting Swinley Drive to Sparcells Roundabout”. Click here to download and read the full email exchange on this subject between the SRA and Taylor Wimpey / DPDS
- MP’s: James Gray, MP for Wiltshire wrote: “It must be a matter of great concern, especially to Swindon, but also to Lydiard M. I will pass it to Highways In Trowbridge if Robert and Justin will do so to Swindon. I guess a fundamental redesign of the outline is perfectly possible?”Justin Tomlinson, MP for Swindon North wrote “You are absolutely spot on with your concerns. I know Robert Buckland MP as your representative will continue to raise these concerns as per James’s response”. Robert Buckland, MP for Swindon South said “I am extremely impressed with the considerable amount of work that has formed the basis of the SRA report. The findings of the SRA report deserve the most serious consideration. I remain very concerned that increased traffic levels on Mead Way will lead to even greater use of Swinley Drive and Washpool Lane by drivers seeking to get to Junction 16.”
Clarification on the to be Closed Purton Road
The June 2013 Link magazine article covering the SRA ‘Gridlock’ report has a quote from Kevin stating “… 80% of the traffic that uses Purton Road between Sparcells and Swinley Drive – which will be closed once the development is complete ….”. The design approved for Taylor Wimpey at the public enquiry has the aforementioned part of Purton Road closed. Whilst some residents have expressed a view that it should be left open, Taylor Wimpey have made it clear that they plan to build Ridgeway Farm per the design presented to the public Inquiry in 2012. Therefore, please do not take Kevin’s quote as meaning the SRA have made a decision to close the road.
MP’s Voice Their Support of SRA Gridlock Report
North Wilts MP James Gray and South Swindon MP Robert Buckland have issued a joint statement in support of the SRA “Gridlock” report. It reads: “As the two MPs whose constituencies are principally affected by the Ridgeway Farm development, we fully support the Shaw Residents Association in their endeavour to achieve the best possible outcome for local residents. We share their concerns about the impact the new development will have on traffic in the area, and welcome the SRA’s comprehensive report on this matter. Their report deserves serious consideration, and all parties should look carefully at the issues it raises. Our concerns about the Ridgeway Farm development remain, notwithstanding the Planning Inspectorate’s decision. We therefore urge the developer to take the views of local residents fully into account as they move forward with this scheme”. Click here for a copy of the email
4. Spine Road Design
Complaint Correspondence Between the SRA and Planning Inspectorate
In June of 2013 the SRA sent a complaint to the planning Inspectorate about the manner in which the spine road width was altered in secret during the public Inquiry. Several email exchanges took place, with the Inspectorate refusing to admit to any wrong doing. We leave it to the reader to decide who is right and whether the lack of a truly independent complaints procedure has affected the response. Click here for the full correspondence.
Flawed Process for Determining the Spine Road Width
Documents provided on behalf of Taylor Wimpey to the public Inquiry held in 2012 very clearly stated the spine road would be 7.3 metres wide and that all reasons for refusal on highway matters had been resolved. Unknown to third parties such as the SRA who attended every day of the Inquiry, the width was changed in private conversations between Swindon and Wiltshire Council officers and Taylor Wimpey during the Inquiry. The report in which these changes were made is called the “statement of common ground” and was not completed until the 6th day of the Inquiry. On completion, the Inspector was informed of agreements. However, the contents of the statement were never made public to Inquiry attendees. The SRA was under the impression that it simply contained section 106 agreements. The reality is that it contained major changes to the primary highway through the development – changes which once they become apparent to the SRA prompted the “gridlock” report. Had the SRA known the spine road was to be just 6.5 Metres wide before the Inquiry in 2012; we would have produced a similar “gridlock” report and presented it to the Inquiry. It is just possible that the outcome of the Inquiry would have been different if we had been afforded that simple democratic right. The SRA have exchanged many emails with DPDS / Taylor Wimpey on this subject. Sadly, the developer’s response has been to dismiss our views and press ahead with the development regardless. Click here for the full email conversation.
Email Exchange between the SRA and Taylor Wimpey / DPDS
The email sent to Taylor Wimpey / DPDS with reference to the Spine Road design noted in the article below resulted in a lengthy email discussion. The full text of these discussions can be found by clicking here. The conclusion of this email exchange is that Taylor Wimpey won the design through appeal and so that is how they intend to build it.
Spine Road Design Email
The SRA sent an email to Taylor Wimpey and DPDS highlighting the poor design of the spine road. It starts: “The Shaw Residents Association is deeply concerned about the design of the Ridgeway Farm spine road and we call again for it to be re-routed around the north and east of the development. Furthermore, we now understand the road will be just 6.5m wide – this is narrower than Swinley drive which measures 6.75m and has just one private drive onto the road (shared by six houses) and no on road parking. The Ridgeway Farm spine road, being 0.25m narrower, will have 11 side roads, four pedestrian crossings (one a toucan), one shared space, an estimated 60 private drive ways and, as a result of the 60 or so house frontages onto the road, will suffer from considerable levels of on road parking”. To read the full email, click here
5. Taylor Wimpey Public Consultation
On the 7 March 2013 we wrote to Taylor Wimpey and DPDS asking when the results of their February public consultation would be made public. These were finally published mid June and placed at the back of a lengthy document on the Wiltshire Planning web site. the SRA made the following complaint to Wiltshire’s planning department: The results of the public consultation provide for misleading evidence. In comment group called “other matters” on page 41 of the planning support statement, one comment states “Why is meeting only published by email; didn’t receive a brochure”. The response from Taylor Wimpey stated “Brochures were distributed extensively”. This is an untruthful statement. The Taylor Wimpey Newsletters were never delivered. Indeed in an email from Rob Phelps of Taylor Wimpey to me he stated “I fully accept that the delivery of the leaflets was unsuccessful and our distribution company are carrying out an investigation on this”. The facts are that the only way residents of West Swindon were made aware of the consultation was through the Link Magazine and an email newsletter from the Shaw Residents Association – the residents comment above alludes to our email. Other comments where they talk about a “newsletter” refer to the SRA newsletter and not the Taylor Wimpey one that was never delivered. Some honesty in this process would be appreciated if you expect residents to accept that adequate public consultations have taken place.
Links to the documents provided by Taylor Wimpey during their consultation are available here:
6. The Public Inquiry
SRA follow up to the Approval of the Application
The developer won the appeal to build 700 houses on Ridgeway Farm. The SRA responded with the following letters:
Click here for the letter sent to the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles together with MP’s James Gray, Robert Buckland and Nick Boles. NOTE: A response from Pickles, Boles and Gray was NEVER received. Robert Buckland was very responsive
Click here for a letter sent to SBC leader Rob Bluh and Councillor Dale Heenan requesting four actions from our council
By clicking here, the full appeal report, together with Mr Pickles cover letter, can be downloaded
Both Swindon and Wiltshire councils rejected the application made by Taylor Wimpey for this development. So the developer took his case to appeal. Kevin Fisher of the SRA attended all seven days of the appeal. The documents created by the SRA and presented during the appeal hearing are available here:
Ridgeway Farm and Tadpole Farm development proposals
The SRA is firmly against any development of the Ridgeway Farm site. The SRA also believes that any proposals for development at Tadpole Farm should be put on hold until the future of Ridgeway Farm is understood. Should Ridgeway Farm receive planning permission, the SRA will lobby against any development of Tadpole Farm. Click here for our full position paper.