Labour Accuse Local Conservatives Of “False Hope” Over Wroughton Housing Application

The Swindon Labour Group Leader has accused Conservative Councillors of giving residents in Wroughton false hope over the Berkeley Farm Planning Application.

When the Berkeley Farm application went to Planning Committee in October 2015, along with another similar planning application in Wroughton, Labour’s Shadow Lead for Planning, Councillor Jim Robbins, said the Planning Committee should approve this development as the Government’s planning law would consider Swindon’s persistent under-delivery of new housing as a key reason to approve these applications. This call was met with strong opposition from Wroughton residents who believed Tory councillors that this application could be turned down:

Following the Berkeley Farm Planning Appeal being granted, a further planning appeal based in Wroughton will also likely be approved and it sets a dangerous precedent for a 50 home application on the border of Lydiard Park.

Labour say the approval of the Berkeley Farm application on appeal shouldn’t be a surprise as the granting of planning appeals for developments on Ridgeway Farm and Hook Street both cited a lack of housing being built as a reason for the appeal to be granted.

Now the appeal has been lost, Swindon Council will be due to pay for the costs of the planning appeal.

The Leader of the Labour Group, Councillor Jim Grant, said:

“I think Conservative Councillors need to apologise to residents in Wroughton for giving them false hope over the Berkeley Farm planning application. At the time this application was submitted we said this application had to be granted as government planning law says when local areas are failing to build the homes it says it wanted, they will approve virtually any development. We drew huge criticism from residents and Tory Councillors but we have been proved right and now Swindon will have to pay thousands in appeal costs.

The reason why the government have approved this application is because Swindon is building only half the number of homes it has stated it would build in its Local Plan. For example, this year it has been predicted that 800-850 homes will be completed in Swindon, in the Local Plan it said we would build 1705. We can’t have a credible Local Plan if it is not being delivered on.

Councillor Elliott said he was angry at the Planning decision and I am angry but for altogether different reasons. I am angry that, in spite of Labour warning people that the government will approve planning applications outside the Local Plan, Tory Councillors gave false hope to residents that this wasn’t the case. I am angry that the Planning Committee were deceived in to believing Councillor Elliott and others that this application could be stopped. And, most of all, I am angry at the government for punishing local communities by granting speculative planning applications because they blame local councils for a lack of housebuilding, when they fail to tackle developers who are deliberately failing to build homes in order to increase houses prices and their profits.”