HUNDREDS of residents packed Lotmead Business Village yesterday afternoon to view proposals for 2,600 homes at a public exhibition.
Ainscough Strategic Land has not yet submitted a planning application for the land to the south of the A420 earmarked for development, the developer held an exhibition on proposals for the site to gauge public opinion.
Should planning go ahead, Ainscough would create two new villages – Earlscourt and Lower Earlscourt – as well as a local centre, primary school, playing fields and allotments and other infrastructure around Lotmead Farm.
One of the main features of the proposals is green space, which has been included to create a development which feels like a village.
ASL managing director,Paul Martin said: “The concept is that of villages. Generally speaking most people would choose to live in a village-like setting, which is why we’ve included a lot of green space.
“The green space also surrounds the little brooks which means that if they flood, they will take up the floodwater and it won’t affect people’s homes.”
Like the rest of the Eastern Villages, the proposals have already received criticism, but Paul hopes the exhibition will form part of an ongoing process between residents, stakeholders and Swindon Council.
He said: “Every development will face criticism, but that was the reason we wanted to hold this so people had a chance to speak to the development team and share their views on the plans and where possible we’ll incorporate their comments into the application.”
There was a mixed reception from residents, with many concerned about how the development would affect them while construction was under way.
Steve Benson, who lives in Coleview, said: “All the traffic is going to come down Oxford Road, and it’s already a very busy road.
“They are saying that the development won’t be completed until 2030 and so we might not even be around then, but in the meantime we’ll have the traffic to deal with.”
Sheila and Eric Bailey were also left frustrated, with the number of people attending the exhibition leaving little space to examine the information on display.
Sheila said: “We didn’t learn anything from the exhibition because there were so many people.”
Much of the criticism concerns a lack of detailed infrastructure in the plans for the whole of the Eastern Villages, and last week landowners around the proposed development site urged developers to discuss with Swindon Council what should be in place before submitting individual planning applications.
Jeremy Francis, the chief executive of Capital Land, represents more than half of the landowners on a 450-acre sector of the site.
Speaking on Saturday he said: “We have a number of interested developers each with their own interests being put to the fore. We believe that unless there is a comprehensive scheme, the needs of the borough will not be met.”
Wanborough parish council chairman Gary Sumner agreed that the proposals would need careful consideration and lacked details on necessary infrastructure.
He said: “They are putting forward a presentation on a site that they currently cannot develop because they do not have approval from owners of adjoining land for access points.
Earlier this month Swindon Council secured £40m to upgrade the local highway system.
Residents have another opportunity to view the proposals at an exhibition today at Covingham Park Primary School between 3.30pm and 7.30pm. Visit www.earlscourt villages.co.uk or call 01793 608778.