A REVISED planning application has been submitted to build homes near Coate Water.
In the latest application the original scheme to build nearly 1,000 homes on the site has been downsized following concerns from residents and official bodies.
Developers originally applied for outline permission to build an estate, including 960 homes, on farmland between the Great Western Hospital and Day House Lane.
Officials at Swindon Council said the proposed number of homes has been reduced to 890 and other revisions have been made, due largely to the objections.
The application has reignited old battles between those who support the plans and the Save Coate Campaign, which is against any building with 1km of the park.
Coun Peter Greenhalgh, the cabinet member for sustainability, strategic planning, property and transport, said the new proposal would protect Coate Water because it was designed to make it difficult for more homes to be built nearer to the country park.
But Jean Saunders, the founder of the Save Coate Campaign, said the council had gone back on its word that that the hospital building would be a one-off and, if a university wasn’t built at Coate, there would be no houses at all.
”This proposal is the best one I think that has been put forward for this general area,” said Coun Greenhalgh (Con, Freshbrook and Grange Park).
“What I would like to see is a development that is done sustainably and has minimum impact on the surrounding areas.
“I think this development will protect the character of Coate Water and should prevent building between this land and Coate itself.
“There will always be a section of the community who will say ‘no building whatever.’ “I think, however, that this will protect Coate Water for future generations as opposed to detracting from it.”
However, Ms Saunders disputes Coun Greenhalgh’s view and said if the floodgates are opened developers will not stop.
She said the revised proposal would still damage the natural and historical landscape, and would open the door to further development nearer Coate Water.
“Developing that area will never be acceptable,” she said. “If permission is granted for housing and offices in that area then it would just spread across to the fields that surround Coate Water. That’s what the developers want.
“They want those prime fields that look out across the lake and who wouldn’t want to live in a house with a lovely view of Coate Water?”
Ms Saunders, who is also secretary of both the Jefferies Land Conservation Trust and the Richard Jefferies Society, is writing to object to the revised proposals and urged others to do the same.
“This area has become a cause célèbre and if it is built on then I think there are going to be a lot of Swindonians who will lose faith in the planning system,” she said.
Swindon Gateway Partnership – comprising of Redrow and Persimmon Homes – originally wanted to build 1,800 homes in the area but the plans were refused at a planning appeal in 2009.
In May, developers submitted another application for up to 960 homes, as well as facilities including a business park, a local centre, primary school and an extension to the hospital.
But objections were received from residents and expert bodies, including the Environment Agency, Natural England, and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.
Under the revised application, the developers have reduced the housing density in parts of the estate, and agreed to limit the height of buildings to three storeys.
A 21-day consultation on the revised plans is to start on Tuesday and the council expects to make a decision in February or March.