SWINDON Council is out to reassure residents fearful of large-scale development at Redlands Airfield, by amending the proposed planning blueprint for the borough ahead of its submission to the Government.

In a bid to close the Wanbor-ough airfield, which has provoked noise complaints, Coun Dale Heenan, cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, last year moved the settlement boundary to include Redlands in the council’s final version of the Local Plan, which sets out the growth vision for Swindon until 2026.

His intention was to allow Redlands owner Joe Smith to hold discussions with developers about selling the land for a small estate which, if approved, would mean the airfield would shut, without the council having to revoke planning permission and pay compensation.

But fears were aired in March when a document surfaced claiming Wanborough Road could handle 500 homes at Redlands.

This was produced on behalf of the owners by land development consultants Webb-Patton, seeking offers from developers, city institutions and private investors to enter into a development land option or promotional agreement on the site.

After reviewing the responses to a public consultation on the draft Local Plan, the council has added to the supporting text for the Eastern Villages policy, stating in relation to Redlands Airfield that “a discrete and exemplary-designed residential development of an appropriate scale would be acceptable at this location which is respectful of the area’s character and setting” and meets proposed sustainable development principles.

Coun Heenan said: “All of the comments received by Swindon Borough Council during the recent Local Plan consultation are being carefully reviewed and considered by officers, and the first change has been decided.

“Many residents and Wanbo-rough Parish Council agree that a small development can take place at Redlands farm, but they have concerns about a 500-house development.

“I agree that a small development of say 50 houses could take place here.

“There are no intentions or plans for a large development of 500, despite the scaremongering, so to add reassurance, an explicit reference will be added to the Local Plan to only allow a small low density high quality development which is respectful of the area’s character and setting at this location.

“The actual number will be based on viability, meeting this criteria and ensuring infrastructure is provided otherwise it will not go ahead.”