Author Topic: Housing Development (Swindon) | Commons debates  (Read 426 times)

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Offline Fido

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Housing Development (Swindon) | Commons debates
« on: June 22, 2010, 11:00:29 am »
Housing Development (Swindon) | Commons debates
22 June 2010, 12:11 am

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon (Mr Buckland) for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this Adjournment debate, which is extremely important for our town. It is a real credit to my colleague that he has secured this debate so early in the parliamentary cycle, and I thank also the Minister, who visited Swindon within days of the new Government being formed.

I wish to highlight two issues. In my maiden speech I touched on the first problem, which is associated with high-density developments. They produce a lack of open space for activities involving jumpers for goalposts and, in particular, young children's sporting activities. That in turn leads to increased levels of childhood obesity and, potentially, to antisocial behaviour, because their endless enthusiasm is not burned off. I have further concerns about shrinking gardens, which have fallen in size by about one third since the 1960s, and we also have problems with a lack of parking provision. Residents are creative and will find their own parking spaces, including on pavements and roundabouts, which creates a real nightmare, particularly on school runs, as mothers have to push their prams and pushchairs on to the main road. That is very dangerous, and emergency vehicles often cannot gain access to certain roads.

The second problem is unadopted roads. Developers, as they sell houses on the new roads, make every effort with maintenance, but during the delay between the last house being sold and the area being adopted maintenance levels all too often fall away. It often takes far too long for areas to be adopted, and there is seemingly no incentive for developers to complete their task quickly. Despite the glossy sales brochures that they put out promising all sorts of glorious infrastructure, it either arrives late or not at all. On that issue, I would push for stronger powers to create a bond scheme, into which developers would have to pay in advance of a development. If they did not keep to pre-agreed levels of maintenance, the local authority could carry out the work and deduct the cost of it from the bond. That would encourage developers to secure the area's adoption quicker, because they would then be able to reclaim their bond. Let us not forget that, while the area is unadopted, local residents still pay council tax.

However, I welcome the Government's announcements on the ability to create lower-density developments. During my 10 years as a councillor I found the previous situation very frustrating, in that I could protest if a development were not high enough in density, but not if it were not low enough. I also support the powers to defend gardens through our anti-garden-grabbing policies. We are moving in the right direction, and my hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon and I will be strong advocates of those two development prongs.

Source: Justin Tomlinson's recent appearances (TheyWorkForYou)


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