Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Some questions for the scrutiny committee

A letter from Jean Saunders on behalf of the Save Coate campaign.

Dear Councillor Small

We are writing to you in your capacity as Chairman of the Scrutiny
Committee and in response to your request to contact you with issues that
should be subject to scrutiny.

We suggest that the Committee examines decisions related to the Coate
Development proposals.

We believe that Swindon Borough Council has failed to take account of public concern related to the proposals, has failed to consult with the public before pushing forward with substantial policy changes in the emerging Swindon Local Plan and Wiltshire Structure Plan and has broken all promises related to granting planning permission for the new hospital at Commonhead with the understanding that this was a "one-off" and would not open up the Coate area for development.

We do not understand how an area that has been protected fiercely for years through planning policy as a high landscape value area can, over-night, seemingly become valueless. We are angry that no-one is taking account of the concerns of at least 27,000 people who have signed the Save Coate petition and who have called for a one kilometre of buffer of countryside to be left around Coate Water in order to retain its status as a COUNTRY park and not a town park and to protect the environmental,
social and historic assets of the area.

We want to know why the University of Bath has been allowed to dictate planning policy. We want to know why the University of Bath was invited to sit on the Urban Regeneration Company and then the New Swindon Company when its remit was to take part in the urban regeneration programme for Swindon as a result of North Star being identified as the site for the university campus.

We want to know why English Nature, English Heritage, the Countryside Agency and the Environment Agency weren't consulted about the proposals before the planning policies were formulated in draft.

We want to know why the Borough Council has not organised any public meetings where the public might express their views on the matter.

We want to know why the Borough Council has not seen fit to look at the literary importance of the area in relationship to Richard Jefferies' life and works.

We want to know why the Borough Council keeps referring to the COMMONHEAD development area when the development is not taking place on the top of the road junction.

We want to know why the planning applications lodged by the Swindon Gateway Consortium in April 2005 haven't been taken to planning committee and refused planning permission. The applications run contrary to policies in the emerging local plan for this area.

Yours sincerely

Jean Saunders
on behalf of the Save Coate! coalition


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