Packing them in, Hab-style

Mr McCloud has been keen to promote his environmental credentials. He’d also have us believe that he’s an imaginative developer. Now that his HAB company’s plans to infill an area behind Northern Road — what they have unimaginatively called The Triangle — have been submitted, we can judge for ourselves.

Not the Railway VillageLook at the two artist’s flights of fantasy. The scenes look just like the Railway Village, don’t they? Don’t they? They don’t. Gone is the pebbledashing of his earlier plans, replaced with render, allegedly to match the surrounding 1930s semis and, if the spin is to be believed, for its energy efficiency.

The development has been set out to achieve high-energy performance targets; this has led to us looking at rendered façade types as the most effective way of achieving these targets.

No doubt, the fact that render is a most effective way of hiding cheap materials underneath never crossed their minds.

They also claim that the monstrosities at the ends of their terraces are inspired by the Railway Village. To quote again from the planning application’s design and access statement,

Further south and just off the town centre is the Railway Village…. These terraces are generally terminated to their ends by a three storey building. The terraces have an area of defensible space to their front allowing for a degree of privacy, and compact well functioning yards to the rear.

Compact well functioning? That’s ‘small’ in plain English. And the three storey buildings in the Railway Village have considerably more in common with the surrounding buildings than Mr McCloud’s bland slabs have with the rest of his development.

McCloud packs ‘em inYou’ll notice in the artist’s impressions fantasies there’s plenty of large cars parked in front of the houses. That’s because despite earlier intentions, the reduction they’ve made in the number of parking spaces per house is concentrated entirely on the smaller, cheaper houses, giving a reduction of less than 30%. And what space they have saved by providing for fewer cars seems to have been used to pack more houses in rather than allowing more space around the houses. If you want a garden, this isn’t the place for you.

What the developers describe as a ‘Multi-functional, humane landscape incorporating adaptations to climate change that places people first & seeks to reduce visual & physical impact of cars’ to me looks — a few wooden fences excepted — incredibly similar to other developments in central Swindon.

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