POORER people in Swindon will miss out on much needed affordable housing after it was agreed 71 fewer homes will be built on the controversial Badbury Park development.

A proposal by Persimmon Homes and Redrow Homes to develop land at Commonhead was rejected by Swindon Borough Council in 2012 but following an appeal it was later passed by the planning inspector.

More than 50,000 people signed a petition against the development, which borders Coate Water Park.

This week the developers claimed it would not be financially viable to build 30 per cent of affordable homes on the site and the council agreed to reduce the figure to 22 per cent.

The developers argued that it was not feasible to also bear the cost of improvements to the road network, including the work on the Junction 15 sliproad.

The suggestion to reduce that figure by eight per cent was backed by an independent assessor.

Coun Kevin Parry, who chaired the meeting, said: “The right decision was made. In today’s current market, the original plan wasn’t viable and losing the grant would have meant that we would have lost more affordable housing in the future. It was a realistic agreement.

“If that agreement had not been made, it would have affected the infrastructure being built, as the houses would not have been built with any infrastructure around them, so it’s vital that the work goes ahead.

“It’s better to build some houses than none at all. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a small sacrifice that had to be made.”

The recommendation was voted through 6-4 in favour with two abstentions.

Votes were split along party lines with six Conservative councillors voting in favour.

But Coun Jim Robbins, Labour’s spokesman for strategic planning, disagreed.

He said: “Labour councillors were not convinced by the developer’s argument.

“With Persimmon making £775m profit last year and Redrow making record profits of £140m, we fail to see why the more disadvantaged people in Swindon have to miss out on much needed affordable houses to make this project viable.”

Along with hundreds of houses, the Commonhead development will also include a local community centre, a school, an open public space, road links to Marlborough Road and Great Western Hospital, an extension to the hospital site with space for emergency services.

Planning permission has already been granted for 769 of the 890 proposed houses and 350 of them are occupied.

Coun Parry said: “Highways England offered a significant amount of money that has to be match-funded by developers.

“If this plan fell through, the work on Junction 15 would not go ahead and the junction needs to be modified for the future of Swindon.”