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Council eyes legal action after minister backs inspector on 100+ home site

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has upheld a planning inspector’s decision to allow a housing development in Swindon, dismissing an appeal by the borough council which has threatened further legal action over the issue.

Swindon had sought to prevent developer Hannick Homes building 103 homes at Wroughton on a site it argued had poor access and was unsustainable.

But the inspector said Swindon had failed to ensure a five-year supply of land for house building and therefore allowed the application on appeal.

The council then appealed to Mr Javid, whose decision letter said he “had regard to the fact that the proposed development is not within the settlement boundary or on land that is allocated or identified for housing within the development plan”, but given Swindon’s substantial shortfall of housing land, “agrees with the Inspector that these policies should only be given limited weight”.

Swindon’s cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability Toby Elliott said the council would explore further legal action to “defend neighbourhood and local plans agreed by residents”.

Cllr Elliott said: “Firstly it is worth noting that we entirely disagree with the decision that has been made.

“We’ll be looking at all our options; that includes looking at the possibility of re-instructing a barrister to take legal action.

“This is an unsustainable development with poor access issues, it’s contrary to both the neighbourhood plan and the local plan.”

He said Swindon had granted many applications for housebuilding but these were “not reflected in the housing supply figure because developers are sitting on land and playing the system”.

Mark Smulian

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