A FRESH bid to frustrate an Old Town housing development has been launched.

Developers Taylor Wimpey will hear next week whether or not they have secured planning permission for the 62-home development on Ambrose Field, off Croft Road.

The proposal has proven controversial, with 139 letters sent to Swindon Borough Council opposing the plans and 71 in support.

Now, Conservative councillors Claire Ellis and Nick Burns-Howell have called on Swindon Borough Council to turn the land into a “community forest”.

Under Swindon’s Local Plan, developments should “contribute towards the aims of the Great Western Community Forest”, a large-scale scheme that stretches into Oxfordshire and Wiltshire.

There is an ambition to increase the amount of tree cover across the borough by 30 per cent by 2027.

Nick Burns-Howell, parish councillor, said: “We need to protect this vital green and open space, which falls clearly outside of the Borough’s Local Plan.

“We are calling on the council to make Ambrose Field a community forest, which would protect the site for generations to come, while creating an asset for the whole of Swindon to enjoy.”

Claire Ellis, a borough councillor who also chairs the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee that looks at adults’ health, said: “Access to green spaces is vital for our physical and mental health and wellbeing. That is why I am working closely with Nick to preserve Ambrose Fields.”

They say that the community forest designation would protect the site from development. Other communities have attempted to get green spaces labelled as a "village green" to frustrate housebuilders.

Struan Power, strategic land and planning manager at Taylor Wimpey said "Taylor Wimpey has worked closely with residents and local Councillors whilst developing our proposals for 62 much needed new homes in Swindon. Our plans include access to the Wichelstowe open space via the development and enhancements for habitat creation too."

The petition can be found at: www.change.org/p/swindon-borough-council-protect-croft-ambrose-field-petition-to-create-new-community-forest.