DEVELOPERS have got the borough “over a barrel”, parish councillors have warned.

Their comments came as developer Persimmon made a bid to get out of a requirement to pay for improvements to the A419 and Junction 15 of the M4.

The requirements were conditions of getting planning permission for 890 homes at Badbury Park, off Marlborough Road.

In a heated exchange, South Swindon parish councillors voted to call the application in to the borough’s planning committee.

However, it is understood that the developer’s application to remove the highways conditions has been invalidated, meaning that it cannot currently go to the committee. The application has not been withdrawn, however.

Planning permission for the controversial Badbury Park development was granted in 2012 by the secretary of state, after the council fought developers Persimmon and Redrow Homes all the way to Westminster.

However, ministers told developers that they must contribute to a scheme to improve Junction 15 of the M4 and A419.

This requirement was to “mitigate against the impact of the development on the A419 and M4”, planning documents said.

It is not known why the application to remove these two conditions was made by the developer.

But parish councillors suggested that it could be a bid to make the development more financially viable – “cleaning-up” the planning conditions.

Chris Watts, chairman of South Swindon Parish Council, told Tuesday night’s meeting: “They wouldn’t have moved forward in the first place if this wasn’t financially viable.

“They’re looking at maximising their profit in a situation where they know Swindon Borough Council is over a barrel because they’re not building enough houses.”

Coun Steve Allsopp added: “It seems to me the original conditions were reasonable and were recognised by the developer at the time.

“Nothing has changed from my perspective, in the sense that these [conditions] have not suddenly become unreasonable. If you’re trying to access the A419 at the moment at peak times you’re looking at significant delay.”

Coun Paul Dixon said that if the conditions were removed “they won’t get the improvements to the A419 and you’ll get denser housing not to the standard that was originally agreed”.

Councillors suggested that developers had a “free hand” in Swindon, because the borough has struggled to meet its housebuilding targets.

Coun Watts said: “Our local plan is a busted flush. The developers know that we’re over a barrel, because they know we have to build 2,000 homes a year.

“They’re essentially putting quite a large scheme at risk for the borough council and holding the borough council’s feet to the fire.”

In August, the secretary of state approved a 103 home development in Wroughton despite opposition from the local plan, councillors and residents.

Toby Elliott, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for strategic planning, said after the decision: “We want to encourage development in Swindon, but it has to be in the right areas which is why we have developed neighbourhood and local plans.

"Planning permission has been granted for a significant number of sites in the borough, but developers are not building at the rate both the council and the Government-appointed inspector into our local plan envisaged. This has put pressure on other sites.”

The borough planned its own house building scheme and would be reviewing the local plan, he added.

Persimmon Homes were approached for comment for this article.