Taylor Wimpey seek to sell Westlecott Farm Cottages
Taylor Wimpey have submitted a planning application to release themselves from an obligation to give Westlecott Farm Cottages to Swindon Borough Council. They instead want to sell them.
The original planning permission for Wichelstowe included an obligation for Taylor Wimpey to give the farm cottages, vacant, to Swindon Borough Council. These are the cottages part way up what is locally known to some as ‘cardiac hill’. The council would then use the cottages as a ‘Heritage and Nature Conservation Interpretation Centre’. If Taylor Wimpey couldn’t provide the cottages with vacant possession then they either had to pay the council £10,000 or cover the council’s costs for a compulsory purchase order and planning costs relating to conversion of the cottages. The permission also included an obligation on the council to construct the centre. This was all part of what is called a ‘Section 106 agreement’.
A later planning permission for the rest of Wichelstowe includes an obligation for ‘Multifunctional Community Facilities’ in Middle Wichel and says that these ‘may include’ a ‘Heritage and Nature Interpretation Centre’. That planning permission doesn’t involve Taylor Wimpey.
Taylor Wimpey’s solicitors claim that because of that obligation in the permission for the rest of Wichelstowe, the obligation to give Westlecott Farm Cottages to Swindon Borough Council no longer serves a useful purpose, and that purpose will be delivered by the centre in Middle Wichel. They also claim that the council told Taylor Wimpey in 2017 that they didn’t intend to acquire the cottages. The solicitors ask for Taylor Wimpey to be discharged from the obligation. Taylor Wimpey separately state that they intend to sell the cottages.
In a letter to the borough council’s chief executive, Taylor Wimpey also note that an additional complication for them is that the open land around East Wichel would, once everything is settled, in principle be transferred to South Swindon Parish Council, as the borough council no longer accepts transfers of open space from developers.
Whatever the outcome of the application, it seems the one remaining tenant in the cottages will be getting a new landlord.
The application from Taylor Wimpey, S/21/1963/MOD106, can be viewed on the council’s planning portal.
Update, Sunday 1st May 2022: the application has now been updated with a decision which reads “I am writing to advise that by virtue of the deed dated 13th April 2022 relating to south development area and being land at Westlecott Farm, Swindon, the obligation has been discharged.” However, the details of that deed have not been made public. No other documents from the application are now publicly accessible.