Green Open Spaces are one of the most important features of local communities and are vital to ensuring a high quality of life for local people. In Swindon’s urban areas there are far fewer green open spaces than in rural areas and that is why Labour recognises that the green open spaces that residents use and want need to be protected from development.
Unfortunately the principle of protecting designated green open spaces in Swindon’s urban areas, which I thought had cross-party support, was undermined recently. I’m referring to the Conservative administration’s decision to sell green open space at Pickards Field to a housing developer.
What concerns me most about this sell-off is the precedent it sets for future possible developments on green open spaces. That is why Labour put forward a motion at the last Council Meeting which called for the opposition in principle to development on designated green open spaces. The Conservatives weren’t prepared to support our motion and attached caveats to their support of protecting green open spaces. With the Conservatives not prepared to support Labour’s motion and with them currently being able to block vote all council issues, I took the decision to withdraw my motion and leave the people of Swindon to decide who they trust to protect their green open spaces- in the Council Election on May the 3rd.
Should you elect Labour to run your council we will do two things to protect your green open spaces. Firstly we will reaffirm the Council’s Local Plan, which technically expired in 2011, as the council’s central planning policy document until a successor planning policy document is agreed. This will leave communities and developers in no doubt what green open spaces are protected from development.
Secondly, we will work with all of Swindon’s communities to establish Community Plans which designates the green open spaces that will be protected from development and which can be developed on. These plans will be legally enforceable.
Labour agrees that more homes need to be built in Swindon. However they need to be built in the right areas not on treasured green open spaces.
Cllr Jim Grant
Swindon Labour Group Leader