Wichelstowe goes global: an essay in little boxes part 20

I’m not sure whether the developers of Swindon’s Front Garden will be happy about being identified by the International Herald Tribune as

A glaring example of the real estate market gone bad.

Perhaps they’ll take solace from the thought that if the Tribune’s London correspondent believes that Swindon is “about an hour’s train ride south of London” perhaps her understanding of the housing market is as poor as her geography.

At least the international attention will be more welcome to them than the misplaced attempts by the Front Garden Action Group to thwart the sales of houses in the Front Garden. Some of their suggests look like grasping at straws.

There is no supermarket, no schools, no library, a very limited bus service. I think Sovereign are jumping the gun.

Well, the development is closer to those amenities than some existing parts of Swindon. It’s just a five minute walk (I’ve tested that) to the nearest bus service, and another ten to schools, supermarkets and — for the moment — a library in Old Town. Based FRAG’s analysis, parts of Cheney Manor, Moredon and Okus should be declared unfit for human occupation.

Some of the group’s other actions are just pointless obstruction.

Next month we will be writing to solicitors, estate agents, developers and so on to warn them that if they don’t let people know something about the history of flooding and noise at the site they may be opening themselves up to legal challenges in the future.

The law prescribes what information has to go in Home Information Packs. Information on environmental risks such as flooding is optional, not compulsory. But leaving these inaccuracies in what the campaigners are saying aside, just what do they hope to achieve? Do they think that if they can deter people from buying houses in the Front Garden, the developers will then demolish all the houses, dig up all the roads and put the land back to how it used to be? Just look at the area where Westlecott Farm used to be and you’ll see that it is too late to go back.
Westlecott Farm, buried
The damage to Swindon’s Front Garden has already been done — obstructing the marketing process now is just a worthless exhibition of sour grapes.

A suburb rises: an essay in little boxes part 18

It’s four months since I last posted any photographs of Swindon’s Front Garden slowly disappearing under the bricks and concrete of Wichelstowe, though I have made an extensive photographic trip around South Leaze for future reference. This weekend, whilst on my way to make some purchases from those helpful people at Old Town Hardware, I took a photograph of the low-cost housing blocks of East Wichel being built where Westlecott Farm once was. The style and housing density remind me of the dense Victorian terraces that once made up the St Ann’s area of Nottingham… which were demolished over thirty years ago as slums.
Victoriana, real and fake

First build: an essay in little boxes part 15

The first houses of the Wichelstowe development are now being built, near the site of Westlecott Farm. Even at this early stage, it is easy to see that the houses are being tightly packed, with very little space between the terrace almost completed and the one just started construction behind. With the fake-Victorian design, you could be forgiven for thinking that this might end up looking like one of those areas in the northern industrial cities that were cleared as slums during the 1970s.
A housing estate arises
Wichelstowe builders packing ’em in