CAMPAIGNERS are horrified that planning officers have tipped plans to build houses on fields near Lydiard Park for approval.

In 2011, plans for 175 homes on land north of Hook Street were thrown out by the Planning Inspectorate on appeal.

In July 2012, developer Persimmon Homes held a pre-application public consultation on revised plans for 91 houses.

But the outline planning application, which has been recommended for conditional approval at Tuesday’s planning committee, is for a reduced development of 73 homes. The homes occupy less than half the original site – 3.6 hectares compared to 8.8 hectares – and are sited down the hill to avoid encroaching over the ridge, which was a main objection to the first plan.

During the statutory consultation, Swindon Council received about 150 objections, including from the Council for the Protection of Rural England, Friends of Lydiard Park, the Lydiard Fields Action Group, Lydiard Millicent Parish Council, and Lydiard Tregoze Parish Council. There were only two letters of support.

Campaigners say the land is not earmarked for housing in Swindon Council’s local plan, it is in a landscape character area and would be seen from Lydiard House, and it would increase traffic in the narrow Hook Street and connected junctions.

But planning officers say the proposed development should be approved as it has overcome the objections raised by the inspector at appeal, is compliant with the National Planning Policy Framework, provides much-needed housing, and would not have an unacceptable impact on Lydiard Park or the Lydiard Ridge Landscape Character Area.

Lorraine Williams, spokesman for Lydiard Fields Action Group, said: “We are absolutely horrified by the recommendation. Hundreds of letters of objection have been sent by the public, and local politicians have been united in their condemnation of the plans.

“The council and the community have already fought and defeated previous similar plans. It is hard to believe the council now intend to just give up and hand the field over to the developers “What is the point of a local development plan if the council simply give in to threats of litigation from developers hungry for lucrative greenfield sites regardless of the irreparable damage they will do to Swindon’s most beautiful asset?”

Dr Richard Pagett, chairman of Purton’s Ps and Qs community group, said: “We do not find it compliant with the NPPF and its contribution to meeting housing need is flawed.

“It is not sustainable to argue that permissions should be granted just to add to the five-year housing land supply when there are already thousands of permitted houses yet unbuilt, and there is a lack of jobs infrastructure and services.

“In addition, a recent metro count of more than 50,000 vehicles travelling in the Hook 30mph zone indicated that 85 per cent were found to be travelling at more than 40mph.”

Politicians who have objected to the plans include MP Robert Buckland, Swindon councillors for Lydiard and Freshbrook, Michael Dickinson, Mick Bray, and Cindy Matthews, and Wiltshire councillor Mollie Groom (Con, Royal Wootton Bassett East).