Thursday, October 12, 2017

Excited Council in the Market for a Cheap & Quick Erection

A plan for a 15 storey block of flats with no parking in a town centre would get a careful objective look you'd think.

Not in Swindon. Not when the point of having a planning system seems now to be pointless, with councillors and officers now in agreement, as it seems anything goes. That goes for a cheap and quick erection, especially if the threat of having to pay costs after it's in the other's favour.

Councillors positively salivated at the council meeting that approved it, as if it's the most exciting event since the last round of councillors pay increases or budget cuts.

The best of the show was the parish council for the area, highlighting the pokey nature of the size of the flats in the block, along with the shadow the building will cast on it's neighbours across Commercial Road, the lack of any car parking and the the look of the building.

From an official SBC point of view, there's no point having any 'Affordable Housing' designated in the block as it's not likely it's what council tenants need and want (you want to go down to page 62 in the link).

Makes you think if the council don't reckon they could rent out the flats, what hope the private sector?

No mention was made about the block going against the Swindon Town Centre Masterplan that any development should "complement the scale and massing of the surrounding town centre buildings" (page 109 if you can find a copy). Things have certainly changed since the council strongly objected and rejected plans before based on the appearance of the building.

Stan 'your local, but not quite' man got very excited and compared it to the David Murray John.

Stan really should know better than to compare a block of flats designed in a couple of months to a vast town centre rebuilding plan that was decades in the planning and building.

The irony seemed to be lost on all the councillors that the view of the town centre's landmark, the DMJ from Deacon Street , will now be lost when the 15 storey erection goes up in front of it.

One word of warning that the council seems to have missed comes from the owner of Signal Point at the railway station. Network Rail have been blocking that being turned into flats as it will make it more difficult to demolish and redevelop later. Is the council boxing itself into a corner with approving all the office to flats conversions in the town centre (two in nearby Farnsby Street in just the last year) making demolition far more difficult if something better comes along?

I'm not sure most councillors are that bothered, by that time they'll all be staring longingly, shivering in their macs at the vast cheap erection surrounded by illegally-parked cars, in the shadowy wind tunnel of Commercial Road with empty restaurant units.

One cheap and quick erection, coming soon!

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