RESIDENTS on both sides of the county-borough border have expressed concerns at a proposal to build 500 homes on a strip of land between the west of the town and a tiny village.

The land, which sits between Washpool, near Nine Elms, and Chestnut Springs, in Lydiard Millicent, has been earmarked by Cooper Estates as a site to be developed.

Both Wiltshire Council and Swindon Council have outlined no further development to the west of the town in their draft core strategies, but the firm has indicated it plans to make representations to the Secretary of State when the Wiltshire Core Strategy is presented later this month.

Any development of the site could be controversial for residents, particularly following the recent opposition to 700 homes at Ridgeway Farm which went to planning appeal last month.

Swindon councillor Nick Martin (Con, Shaw), who on Tuesday night voted in favour of the development of Tadpole Farm to the north of the town, feared there would be parallels between the two proposed developments.

“It sounds like it could be another Ridgeway Farm,” he said.

“The roads through Washpool are only one car wide, they are rural roads and any development there would piggy back on Swindon’s infrastructure.”

Wiltshire councillor Mollie Groom said she was worried about a potential merging of Lydiard Millicent and West Swindon.

She said: “We are concerned because this areas is within the rural buffer and it create a coalescence of the village into Swindon.

“We are now members of the Royal Wootton Bassett and Cricklade neighbourhood plan and the Wiltshire Core Strategy states there is to be no strategic development in that area.”

But Steve Briggs, a partner at land agent Smiths Gore, which represents Cooper Estates, stressed an application would not be forthcoming soon.

He said: “There is no planning application at the moment and all we have been doing is working with Wiltshire Council for four years to do consultation and putting forward a case.

“Four years ago they put out a call from sites under strategic housing availability but we are well they have now changed tack and are not looking at sites on the west side of Swindon.

“We are deliberately taking a responsible approach and making our representations to the final draft core strategy process.

“There is no developer on board yet, just the landowner.”

“Our general argument is that it’s sustainable in terms of linking in with that side of Swindon and can be delivered quickly if that is required. It is not an aggressive plan.”

TV presenter says it’s about giving people the homes they deserve

TV PRESENTER Kevin McCloud has spoken out after his plans to build 241 homes in Gorse Hill were scrapped.

The controversial £30m project was pulled at the beginning of this week due to unforeseen delays and issues.

Residents and ward councillors started a campaign when Haboakus announced plans in February to build 241 homes, including 106 affordable homes, on former allotments at Pickards Small Field and Kembrey Grass.

Swindon Council’s Cabinet agreed to dispose of the sites to the developer, subject to conditions being met, including the scheme receiving planning permission.

Haboakus began consultation to develop the plans but suspended all work after Swindon Council passed a motion seeking to conduct its own pre-application consultation.

Mr McCloud has come out saying that he still believes in the project but that his celebrity status made it difficult.

He said: “If anything, being in the public eye made it worse for me.

“I saw a document where someone from the local authority said, ‘We can't possibly be seen to be pandering to Kevin McCloud.’ I think they made it harder for me to gain planning consents.”

Last year his 42 eco-homes at the Triangle welcomed their first residents after initial opposition.

Mr McCloud though has said that although the project did not make a profit the people who live there now are happy.

“Some people hated what I was doing, and told me so,” he said.

“It was quite an eyeopener. Usually, people are very nice to me. I'm not used to being shouted at in the street.

“This isn’t about making money.

“It’s about creating a vision, about giving people homes they deserve.

“When I go back to Swindon and see these families who are truly happy, I think, We got it right. Not 100 per cent, but right enough to make a difference.”