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Public inquiry casts doubt on major link road for Eastern Villages development

Major plans for a new link road set to join the new Eastern Villages development to the rest of Swindon are in doubt after the government agreed to a public inquiry into its route.

A group of farmers who own the land on which it could be built called for the inquiry, saying the current plans would make land around the road unusable.

Need for the road is critical to the success of the whole scheme, to build 8,000 new homes, schools, leisure facilities and business premises, in one of the largest greenfield developments in the country.

The landowners' objections stem from two issues: First that, they claim, the design would ruin the remaining land either side of the road and make it unusable and secondly, that the Borough Council has attempted to buy the land through a compulsory purchase order, which they say is unnecessary and a waste of taxpayers money.

A statement, sent to SAM FM by George Paton from WebbPaton Land Agents reads as follows:

"We have managed to get a Public Inquiry in the Compulsory Purchase and have found substantial problems with the design of the road which will effect how the farmers dan farm land either side of the Southern Connector Road."

"It is a great pity that none of the farm field accesses have been designed properly by SBC [Swindon Borough Council].

"This road will mean the farmland around it will be unfarmable as the road is currently designed, and splits the land into uneconomical to farm fields either side of the road.  

"We have asked for farm gates to be opposite one another and for cattle holding pens either side to enable cattle handling by cattle lorry.  

"Swindon have yet to put this in the planning application and enter into any contract with the poor farmers / landowners whose land will be severely impacted.

"The data set from Highways England on how this road will impact Commonhead Roundabout / A419 is still not available.  

"If planning is granted the farmers whose land is taken will Judicial Review it, as SBC are steamrolling this planning application rather than following planning legislation and procedures.  

"Election politics are not a reason to not follow correct procedures, or Highway Act legislation to cater within a design for the impact on agricultural land.

"This road will change the character of the surrounding farmland forever.

"The landowners have spent 2 years trying to get SBC to change the design so the farmland does not flood and field gates work.  

"Without success."

The statement goes on to say that the "beneficiaries" of the road will be the developers who they claim "could have easily bought the land" themselves instead of resorting to compulsory purchase, and so such a purchase is a "waste of taxpayers money".

In response the Borough Council has told SAM FM the road would provide "a strategic link" between the Eastern Villages Development and the town. 

“Landowners affected by the proposals have passed their objections on to the Secretary of State, as is their legal right, and, as a result, he has called a public inquiry which will get underway in January," they say.

“It would not be appropriate for us to comment on the specific points raised by Mr Paton at this time.”

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