Planning for Swindon’s growth and future prosperity is one of the council’s most important roles and never has this been more important than it is now.
Our town has expanded at a rapid rate over the last few decades and with demand for housing continuing to rise, thousands more homes will be built in the borough to cater for the expected increase in our population.
Just a few weeks ago we shared the positive news about our joint venture agreement with Barratt Developments, which will see 2,750 homes built in Wichelstowe. But this is just the start.
As many of you will know, the New Eastern Villages (NEV) will see about 8,000 homes, new businesses and extra schools built on land to the east of the A419. It is a huge undertaking, although not surprising when you consider it will be the UK’s largest greenfield extension.
But while we are opting for a slightly different approach to house building on this scale by creating village-like developments and maintaining green corridors, we cannot neglect the infrastructure required for such an important expansion of the borough.
There are four major transport improvement schemes that my Cabinet colleague Toby Elliott and his team of officers are currently working on to ensure our roads can cope with the extra traffic that the NEV will inevitably bring.
Proposals have been drawn up for a major overhaul of the White Hart Junction and, contrary to some of the rumours that have been circulating in the Stratton area, the preferred option does not include closing the Ermin Street Bridge.
The multi-million pound road upgrades also include a scheme to improve the A420 Gablecross Junction, while we also have plans for the Great Stall Bridge and the Southern Connector Road which is a new link route connecting the NEV with Commonhead Roundabout.
But we cannot do this alone and it is vitally important that local people have their say on the proposals so we can take on board their views.
I was greatly encouraged by the fact that more than 400 people attended last month’s drop-in session at Coleview Community Centre where the current designs for the four schemes were presented.
However, there are two further opportunities for people to have a look at the schemes over the coming days. On Saturday (3 March), council officers will be in the main hall of Grange Leisure Centre, Grange Drive, between 9am and 1pm to answer any questions, while a second event will be held on Monday (5 March) at Hooper’s Field Sports Hall, Rotten Row, Wanborough, between 3pm and 7pm.
If you have some spare time I would encourage you to pop along so you can see for yourself how we are planning for Swindon’s future.