THE long-running planning battle to build a new housing estate in Lydiard will come to a head at a planning inquiry due to start later this month.

Primegate Properties (Hooknorth) Ltd, on behalf of Bovis Homes, has taken its case to build up to 175 properties on land off Hook Street to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol after Swindon Council refused planning permission last year.

The news has rattled most families living close to the site who are opposed to the possible development of the area.

Robert Buckland, the MP for the area, has been vocal about his opposition to the plans and is urging anyone who wishes to make a comment on the proposals to do so before it’s too late.

He said: “There is a massive feeling in the area about this – people don’t think it is right.

Swindon Borough Council refused planning permission but the developers have now taken it to the planning inspectors.

“We definitely feel that decisions like this should be made, and made to stick, at a local level and not by some external body miles down the road in Bristol.

“The proposal would mean green space close to Lydiard Park becoming a housing estate.

“I am opposed to this development for a number of reasons.

“Firstly, it would mean loss of open space adjacent to the environmentally sensitive country park. Secondly, the roads in this area are totally inadequate to handle the extra traffic and thirdly, local infrastructure such as schools and community facilities could not cope with the influx of new residents.”

Mr Buckland said that the urgency of getting residents’ comments heard has been increased after Bovis Homes’ agent DPDS sent out a letter connected to an alternative plan for the site.

The letter states people have until January 21 to have their comments lodged on this alternative plan, but does not mention the deadline for general comments on the appeal proposal, which is on Friday.

Mr Buckland said: “While I am sure there was no intention to mislead, the possible consequence is that people will miss their chance to comment.”

A spokesman for DPDS said: ”The letter sent out only refers to the master plan and sketch layout enclosed with the letter.

“The deadline set by the Planning Inspectorate for comments specifically on these alternative plans is January 21 and is not the same as that for the all other comments on the proposal sent to appeal –that deadline remains this Friday.”

For details on the appeal, go to www.planning and search for 2140734.