PLANS to bring in more housing around the Abbey Stadium have been criticised amid claims it will leave a shortage of job opportunities in North Swindon.

Permission has been given to build houses and commercial space in the development around the stadium, set to be started next year.

However, because of a downturn in the economy there is little demand for the office space so the site owners want permission to make all the surrounding land residential space.

Blunsdon Parish Council has objected to this on a number of grounds, including the need for jobs.

Chairman Ian Jankinson said: “When you look at the amount of houses due to be built not just in Blunsdon but all over North Swindon then you see the need for employment. There are no significant areas of employment so this would have been ideal. If you don’t, all you are going to see is a lot more cars on already packed roads as the people head towards the town centre.

“Part of the initial reasoning behind locating the commercial space there was also that it would protect homes from noise created at the race track.”

An independent report was commissioned as part of the application to look at the marketability of the land as office space.

Written by Jones Lang Lasalle, it has concluded that it would be difficult to attract office-based employment to the area but smaller warehouse focused companies may find it attractive.

It concluded: “Groundwell West/Abbey Meads in not an office location and is unlikely to become one in the near future. Take-up levels alone indicate that any form of speculative development would be unwise and in any event such development would have great difficulty in securing funding. “We feel that linking this site with adjacent landowners and perhaps losing or reducing the employment element is the most viable option as larger scale warehousing is far more likely to attract an employment provision.

“Funding is the key. Unless a development is occupier-led, the implied voids, marketing periods and rates liabilities are impacting appraisals to such a degree that only those on the best sites are proving viable.”

A consultation on the proposed alterations was held last year at the current Abbey Stadium. Speaking at the time Martyn Sutchbury of Landvest said: ”To put it simply, there is no-one to fill the space. We want to hurry the process along so we’ve decided to change the plans.”