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Wichelstowe road change opposed at meeting
PROPOSED changes to a road being built as part of the Wichelstowe development were at the centre of concerns raised by residents at a packed meeting.
More than 150 people living near the 4,500 home development between Wroughton and Old Town spoke to the council on Thursday about the proposed realignment of the Croft Road to Hay Lane Link to save £3m.
But residents, who also criticised the decision to build a tunnel under the M4, said the changes made the road less attractive to motorists and were likely to lead to increased traffic in Wharf Road and Mill Lane and more accidents as a result.
Terry King, chairman of the Front Garden Action Group, said: “I have been concerned with the planning on the front garden since 1995.
“The council’s plans, which were issued, showed the southern relief road going from east to west and going south of the Wichelstowe development.
“Suddenly, without prior notice, it is called something else and it is not going to be a relief road at all and it is going to go through three villages... it won’t serve Wichelstowe.
“It should allow through traffic and not go through villages.”
Residents told the council it should carry out current traffic studies rather than relying on data collected during the planning process.
They also raised concerns that the new road would open opportunities for development south of the M4, and argued it would be cheaper to build a bridge or extend the road to junction 16 of the M4 rather than build a tunnel.
Council leader Rod Bluh said: “A couple of people have said about us being in a financial mess. We are not in a financial mess. There is a difference between a financial mess and being financially challenged.
“We don’t know how this development is going to play out long term.
“What the council is doing is managing the risk of this development.
“If we anticipate the proceeds aren’t as high as was likely, we have a duty to try and manage it down.
“The issue tonight is about this southern relief road and whether it is realigned.
“It is clear what matters at the end of the day is what works.
It is about what will happen if plan a, b or c is adopted... this is only the beginning of the process.
“This is a multi-million pound project and it has got to be got right. It is a duty on all of us that we get this right for Swindon.”