THE University of Bath's decision to withdraw from Swindon casts doubts on other major projects in and around the town.

That's the pessimistic view of North Swindon MP Michael Wills, speaking after the university's council officially agreed to pull the plug on its plans to put a campus at Coate as part of the Gateway development.

As exclusively revealed in the Adver last month, the university's senate voted not to carry on with its bid to expand into Swindon.

The university council had to agree before the bid became official policy, and tonight (Thursday) agreed with the senate and voted to abandon the Coate project.

Mr Wills said he was very disappointed. "It's a great shame that the town has gone so far in trying to accommodate the University of Bath," he said.

"It's a real blow that without any real notice to anyone in the town that they have pulled the plug on the project. This raises significant questions about other projects in the town and the region."

Swindon Council has said that without a university Coate will not be built on.

But developers remain bullish about their prospects for attracting a higher education campus, which will enable them to also build 1,800 new homes and a business park.

Persimmon Special Projects and Redrow Homes South West are the funding partners of the Swindon Gateway Partnership.

Persimmon director Paul Davis said: "We remain very confident that a new university campus for Swindon will be developed on the Gateway site because we are aware of a number of other universities interested in expanding into Swindon.

"There is a clear recognition within the business and educational communities in Swindon that the town needs a university to match its anticipated growth over the next 10 to 20 years. The Gateway site is the only realistic location if Swindon is to have its own university and we anticipate strong interest from a number of universities."

Mr Davis said that Bath's reasons for pulling out - a change in Government funding policy and problems with the Gateway plan - were not serious obstacles.

Professor Glynis Breakwell, the university's vice-chancellor, said the decision to withdraw was made with great reluctance.

She said: "For almost five years the University of Bath has been working to exploit an opportunity to build an iconic, new campus in Swindon.

"It is very disappointing that the prevailing planning and funding conditions no longer appear to favour a project of this nature and scale.

"We will continue to work closely with a wide range of external partners to explore how best to expand the higher education provision in Swindon and Wiltshire."