Swindon Central Market Redevelopment
Impact Planning Services Ltd (IPS) has worked closely with our colleagues at NC Architects, and provided planning advice regarding the regeneration of a site in central Swindon. The Tented Market, within Swindon’s town centre shopping district, became commercially unpopular and unattractive, and was widely acknowledged as deserving redevelopment to bring about much needed town centre regeneration, revitalization and enhancement. IPS was instructed by CJV Properties, following a turbulent planning history seeking to regenerate the site and remove the existing market trading building originally erected in 1994.
Appeal and Award of Costs
An initial scheme for 4 restaurants and a coffee shop went before Swindon Borough Council’s Planning Committee in June 2016 with a recommendation of approval. The scheme was however refused by the Committee following essentially sentimental local public and tradesman lobbying. The reasons for refusal included the following:
‘Loss of an existing market and replacement with an over concentration of Class A3 uses. Failure to achieve a high standard of urban design, is unsympathetic to the local context, fails to improve the character of the Town Centre and fails to provide an efficient use of the site.’
IPS advised the Applicant to appeal this decision and were appointed to prepare a robust statement of case and to submit the appeal application. The appeal focused on the principle that the revised proposals would deliver a mix of uses which will allow the area to remain vibrant throughout the day and into the evening assisting in the creation of a more interesting and competitive town centre. The proposed development would deliver an attractive building of contemporary architecture which can be viewed from a variety of vistas, responding well to Market Street and Wharf Green. In addition, the proposal would accord with the policies of the Development Plan which, in particular, seek to regenerate Swindon Town Centre and support sustainable development.
The Planning Inspector found in favour of the Appellant as presented by Impact Planning and allowed the appeal. The following summarises the decision:
- Evidence suggests the market is no longer viable;
- The proposal would not detract from the vitality and viability of the town centre;
- The proposal would not fail to protect the shopping function of the town centre;
- It would provide active frontages at ground floor level;
- The proposal would achieve a high standard of urban design which would be both sympathetic to and improve the surrounding townscape and it would not cause unacceptable harm to the character and appearance of the area;
- The proposal would accord with the Development Plan and Framework.
IPS also submitted a costs application, against the Borough Council, arguing that Council had acted unreasonably and the decision of the Committee was unduly influenced by objections from interested parties which could not be substantiated with planning evidence. In addition, the Borough Council’s reasons for refusal relied predominantly on assertions and were not underpinned by objective planning evidence and consequently did not withstand objective scrutiny. The Inspector ruled in favour of the Appellant; awarding full costs against Swindon Borough Council.
A revised scheme was submitted to the Council in April 2017, which sought to maximise the site value and produce an iconic, landmark building in the centre of Swindon. The scheme was developed and significantly changed following detailed discussion with the Council’s planning officers and Councillors and a review by the South West Design review panel.
The resulting scheme was an 8 to 15 storey building comprising 101 flats with A3 and A1 retail units on the ground floor. The proposals will deliver a flagship development which will play an important part in the regeneration of the town centre; and deliver much needed residential properties.
Impact Planning Services provided the planning input to the Design and Access Statement to show how the details and the principle of the scheme built on the planning permission granted on appeal. The input also showed how the revised scheme clearly satisfied and conformed to all of the relevant adopted policies of Swindon Borough Council.
The revised scheme was approved by the Council’s planning committee in October 2017 subject to a S.106 agreement.