The emerging Blunsdon East Neighbourhood Plan (BENP) is in draft form and is published on the BENP website http://blunsdonneighbourhoodplan.info/. We are at the policy writing stage and most of the Policies are in place derived from previous consultations with stakeholders.
Swindon Borough Council currently does not have a 5 year housing land supply (5YHLS). This means that they are not building enough houses in line with the 22,000 house target, set by the Government, and are not providing enough land for those houses to be built. When the Swindon Borough Local Plan 2026 (SBCLP) was published, the housing allocations that were proposed provided for enough houses to fulfil that 5YHLS.
As developers took options on those allocations, in some cases with the larger developments, they have not started construction as was projected by the SBCLP. This means in real terms that planning policies in the SBCLP are weakened. These policies, written to protect rural areas like Blunsdon, are being challenged with speculative applications that the Local Planning Authority (LPA) would normally reject. However when the developers take the decision to appeal, it is overturned by an inspector who can see the lack of house building and supports the application despite the LPA’s policies. This happened for the Linden Homes site for 69 houses on the corner of High Street and Ermin Street to the north.
Although Blunsdon was allocated a share of “around 100 dwellings” in the SBCLP, since that plan applications and permissions for 255 houses have been made, (Hillside 61, Blunsdon Heights 57, Linden Homes 69, Reservoir site 53, and a site between those on Ermin St. 15). Thus the NP Group decided that we did not need to allocate sites for house building.
The current rash of applications for planning developments within the BENP area prompted the NP group to consult with a multi-disciplinary group of professionals, who have an influence upon planning and regeneration, from relevant departments within Swindon Borough Council. We asked for their advice and help and discussed how best to take advantage of the Ministerial Statement from Gavin Barwell M.P. who announced that NP groups which allocate sites for development reduced the need for the LPA to have a 5YHLS to a 3YHLS. This led to our decision to consult with Parishioners about the need to change the BENP to include the policy to allocate sites for development.
Click on the picture below – to view the slides.
On the day around 150 of the residents and concerned stakeholders attended the consultation in the Village Hall. We explained the development situation showing maps and facts and figures and provided explanations where we could to questions and concerns. We demonstrated the need to change the original draft policy in the NP which did not allocate sites for development and asked for the opinion of attendees with the help of a questionnaire, aided by a cup of tea or coffee and cake.
The attached copy of the questionnaire outlines the questions we asked which also sought to qualify the understanding of the individual with regards to the development and planning situation in the Borough and the Parish.