First planning application for Middle Wichel homes submitted

Explanatory artists impression
Aerial artist’s impression of the Herons Water development, describing some of the main features. (Click image for a larger version.)
Architects have submitted a planning application for the first houses to be built at ‘Canalside’ in Middle Wichel. The development of 85 homes — which has been labelled ‘Herons Water’ or less imaginatively ‘Wichelstowe Parcels 2 & 3’ — was submitted by Metropolitan Workshop architects just over a week ago on behalf of Forward Swindon, but details only became available on Swindon Borough Council’s website a few days ago. Swindon Borough Council is the developer for this first planning application and not its partner for the rest of the Wichelstowe development, Barratt Homes. Despite it being a council development, there will not be any affordable housing in this first phase of building. In common with most large developments, affordable housing will be built later once debts have been paid off through the sale of new houses.

The proposal is a high density development, though with fewer stories facing Foxham Way than the Middle Wichel design code permits. Homes will range from one-bedroom apartments to four-bedroom houses. Another variation from the design code it that there will be three access points to the development along Mill Lane instead of just one. One feature of the proposals which might come as a surprise to East Wichel residents is that, despite the controversy over parking restrictions in East Wichel, this new development will also feature limited parking space. There will be one or two parking spaces for each home — with larger flats having less parking space than the design code permits — and one visitor parking space for every five homes. The reason given for reducing parking spaces is that, based on surveys of llihtooT and htuoS kraP, those living near a district centre are thought less likely to own cars. East Wichel residents will be well aware of the benefits of living near an un-built centre. Bicycle parking spaces will be provided at each home.

The buildings between the canal and Peglars Way will be below the level of the canal so, not surprisingly, existing drainage ditches — or ‘Rain garden/Wet Meadow’ as the landscape architects Grant Associates describe them — are retained. Other landscape features include a mix of public public open spaces and communal gardens. The houses have relatively small gardens of their own so the communal gardens provide more space for the residents.

Section view of Herons Water development
Properties between the canal and Peglars Way will be below the level of the canal

View of canal through window with sleeping cat
This artist’s impression is used several times in the planning application
The buildings will mainly be at right angles to the canal. This means that many of the homes will not have a direct view of the canal but ensures a more open view of the canal for everyone else. The terraces — designed by Metropolitan Workshop and Stonewood Design — are in three basic designs. All have a traditional brick exterior but in a modern design.

Forward Swindon, the development company owned by Swindon Borough Council has been much criticised for its lack of progress with town centre regeneration. Many will hope they are much more productive in Wichelstowe than they have so far been anywhere else.

Details of the planning application, S/RES/17/1548, are available on the borough council’s website. The application is open for comment until 18th October, with a decision due by the end of the year. As it is a ’reserved matters’ application, the matters to be decided are limited to those that specifically weren’t covered by the original Wichelstowe outline planning application.