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Inlands Farm Planning Appeal Starts This Week

What you need to know

  • 13 June 2021
  • Author: John Warr
  • Number of views: 424
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Inlands Farm Planning Appeal Starts This Week

The Inlands Farm Public Inquiry Starts this week.

The appeal is set to run over 3 weeks, with 4 days in each week running Tuesday to Friday. This first week is Tuesday 15th to Friday 18th June, then 22nd June to 25th, and 29th June to 2nd July. Each day consists of 3 sessions, 10.00am to 11.30am, 12.00 to 1.30pm and 2.00pm to 3.30pm.

The Inquiry is a VIRTUAL event run in Microsoft Teams.

It is a public event, so anyone can drop in at any time to view proceeding. However, to get the invitation link you need to register your interest and let the Planning Inspector know you wish to attend.  This is easy, just click this email link  helen.skinner@planninginspectorate.gov.uk (details are prefilled for you) and ask to be an observer of the inquiry Inlands Farm  ref: 3269667. Helen will reply with details on how to join with an invitation link.

The enquiry itself runs a lot like a court hearing. The Planning Inspector will listen to evidence from the "appellant" in this case Wasdell on why the planning application should be approved, and from the "defendants" Swindon Borough Council and SSPG as to why it should be refused. The "parties" will each bring expert witnesses to the stand and then they will be questioned, firstly by their own counsel and then cross examined by the other side.

Loosely speaking, week 1 will focus on the economic case, week 2 on more technical planning issues and weeks 3 includes evidence on alternative sites, class use and wider representations.

The Inquiry will start with opening statements on Tuesday 15th June. If you wish to observe, send an email to Helen to get the login details and then join at 9.15am.

SSPG involvement

The primary parties in this appeal will be represented by QCs, barristers who are specialists in these types of hearings. SSPG is a full participant to this Inquiry, but rather than a QC representing us we have an "Advocate" John Moe, a Managing Consultant skilled at analysing and dissecting business cases, fulfilling the role.

As such we will leave the main QCs to do the heavy lifting and, through John Moe we will challenge assertions by the "appellant" around 5 core areas:

  • Compliance with the Use Classes Order: This is a significant consideration; the Wasdell building for Phase 1 should have a planning class use of B8 (Storage & Distribution) rather than B1(c)
  • Science Park Viability: The creation of a ‘Science Park’ or ‘Innovation Centre’ at this site is highly speculative
  • Economic Impact: The economic case for Inlands Farm Phase 1 development is marginal at best, and dependent on substantial and unproven rapid growth of Wasdell to achieve a positive Gross Value Add (GVA) for Swindon.  The economic case for Phase 2 is predicated on the success of a new ‘Science Park’ (or ‘Innovation Centre’) that is unachievable, as explained in Objection 2.
  • Fundamental Principle of Development: There is no justification for the development of Phase 1 as the Appellant acknowledges that the proposal does not comply with Local Plan policies SD2 and NC3, and is on a greenfield site.
  • Alternative Sites: The Swindon Local Plan identifies several suitable existing alternative sites (such as the former Honda site, Great Stall West, and the W.H. Smith Greenbridge site) that could accommodate Wasdell’s stated requirements

To assist our case, we will be bringing 2 expert witnesses to the stand.

  • Dr Malcolm Parry who is a founder of UKSPA (UK Science Park Association) to raise doubt on the viability of the "science Park"
  • David Harling - expert on manufacturing, warehouse and logistic operation to cast doubt on the claim that the proposed application is consistent with light industrial use

SSPG will provide more information on the timetable tomorrow and details on our weekly 30-minute briefing to keep you updated on progress to be held via Zoom at 6.30pm om Monday evenings.

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