“open our eyes and see... The petal of the buttercup (with its) enamel of gold ... a blue kingfisher by the brook” so that then we might come to value and protect them.
Call for Help! YOUR opinions count!!
The Planning Inquiry commences on Tuesday 15 November at 10am at the STEAM Museum, Swindon. Anyone who wishes to speak should attend that day to register their interest to speak. The Inquiry is set to last 6 days.
Please pass on this information to everyone you can
HELP US TO SAVE COATE, we can't do it without YOU
THE FIGHT STILL GOES ON.....
As time will be tight for you to write to the planning inspector, who will be conducting the Swindon Gateway appeal, here is just an outline of what is in store. Those of you who objected to the planning application will receive a letter inviting you to make your views known, but anyone can take part in the local inquiry.
The first stage: the Inspector (Mr E Grace) has the opportunity to read through all the paper-work attached to the planning application – if you wrote before, a copy of your letter will be part of the package. He then decides what issues should be covered at the actual inquiry that is due to sit from 15 November for some 6 days or so. The venue is not yet known. There will be a pre-inquiry meeting (normally held in Swindon Council’s main council chamber) when the planning inspector will outline what he wants from participants. Please note that you don’t have to speak at the planning inquiry but you can attend and submit written evidence.
The deadline that Cllr Dale Heenan mentioned of 13 September, is the date for you to write to the Planning Inspector to outline the main reasons for objection (or support!) and what you think should be covered at the Inquiry. You are under no obligation to take part further. I will try to put something together as a standard response but you have to submit 3 copies of what you send to:
Mr E Grace, Planning Inspector, The Planning Inspectorate, Room 4/04, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6PN
You will need to quote Appeal Reference Number: APP/U3935/A/11/2155834 and location: Land at Day House Lane, Coate, Swindon (or what the council calls ‘Commonhead’!)
Remember that this time we are supporting the decision of Swindon Borough Council’s planning committee to refuse planning permission. The three main issues that they will cover will be prematurity (as the draft Swindon Core Strategy has not been adopted), certain traffic concerns, the unacceptable impact on the views from the downs. We will need to cover other concerns ourselves!
It will be equally important to assume the worst, and ask for a session to be dedicated to deciding the conditions and Section 106 agreements that should be put in place if planning permission is granted (ie if the appeal is upheld by the Sec of State who will make the final decision). This list should include the ones agreed before by Swindon Council and the developers, but we also need security that all the remaining land west of Day House Lane (south and east of Coate Water) is not developed in the future and we need compensation for the loss of Jefferies’ literary heritage land that might take the form of a £500,000 donation to improve the Richard Jefferies Museum that abuts the appeal area. John Price and I have attempted to secure Section 106 money for the Museum before, but we have had no backing from Swindon Council and all the developers offered was a board to say something about the writer!
You have the opportunity to write to the Inspector until the last day that the appeal sits. So if something else crops up during the inquiry or whatever, you can still make your views known.
For those of you who would like to present oral “evidence” at the Inquiry, the planning inspector will explain what he wants at the pre-inquiry meeting.
YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
We need you to help us pass on this link...URGENTLY... the latest campaign in the fight to save the land around Coate is being done online in a bid to engage with social networking sites. “The last petition was all done by hard slog from people collecting but this time we really want to get something to still show the strength of opinion across the town. We looking at a much shorter time scale this time for the petition, we have just over a month if we want to present our objections in the Swindon Core Strategy.” says Jean Saunders.
Following the council planning committee meeting to review the planning officer's recommendations Jean Saunders gave this update;
Good news – no great news!
Swindon Borough Council’s planning committee was clearly not convinced by their planning officer’s recommendation to grant planning permission and initially the Labour Group seconded by the Lib Dems voted to move for refusal. However, they then decided that they needed more time to look at exploring more grounds for refusal – so they voted to defer with one councillor voting against because he was in favour of just throwing the planning application out! No one seemed convinced that the would-be buffer land was safe.
The members of the public who spoke all covered different issues and made excellent points.
The Councillors were moved by the strength of feeling shown by the public and they were also amazed at the number of letters and emails that they had received that expressed concerns about the proposals (so thanks everyone). The point was made that the sacrifice was too great for what was on offer – it would not be an exemplar housing estate with special ecological features or super design – just another housing estate and business park, and Swindon had enough of those already.
The Council Chamber wasn’t big enough for the audience, so many people were ferried into another room where they watched proceedings by remote video.
Thank you all for your help – it’s not over yet.
Watch this space.
Jean has campaigned relentlessly to preserve this land throughout and maintains a blog with detailed further information and the very latest news at http://jefferiesland.blogspot.com/
Why do we need to 'SAVE COATE'?
With ever increasing interest by developers in fresh, previously unspoilt land many of the previously protected 'Areas of Outstanding Beauty' and 'Green Belt' land throughout England are being identified as potential sites for development. Sadly, although existing sites lay dormant, unused or seriously in need of re-development, 'Green Field' sites remain particulalry attractive as fresh new sites are often less expensive to develop and more likely to attract premium returns, often as a direct result of their location. As a result, great swathes of natural beauty, heritage and history are being lost for ever.
Deep in the heart of Wiltshire, England, one such site is under attack. Developers have tried to engulf the land of Coate, nestling on the North Wessex Downs and surrounding a local favourite beauty spot; Coate Water Country Park, with a massive building programme. The council responded however to the pleas of locals (supported by an unbelievably huge petition) combined with the fact that the plans were not in accordance with the strategic plans for the area, and the original submissions were finally rejected after a long and bitter battle. However, having already made a substantial investment in trying to take the land for development, the developers are reluctant to give up and are determined to recoup their losses. Their most recent proposals seem to be vastly reduced, and, although they have abandoned their promise to provide the town with a University they appear to have taken some account of the public plea to protect the park - an area voted as 'our favourite place' by the people of Swindon, so why does the campaign to 'Save Coate' need to go on?