PEEPING-toms could stare at young dancers wearing revealing leotards from proposed flats, a dance school owner has suggested.

Around 18 residents packed into the Swindon Borough Council planning committee to protest against developers’ attempts to build 45 homes on the former Eastcott Road bus depot.

Judith Potts, principal of Judith Hockaday School of Dance, warned that residents in one three-storey block of flats would be able to look down into one of her dance studios.

She told councillors: “I have grave concerns about this, as the children and students use the garden regularly and you will appreciate they are in dance wear, which as you must know is often quite revealing.

“It only wants one person with a long-range lens in their camera and they can see right down into my main studio.”

Mrs Potts, who has lived in the area since 1966, urged councillors to reject the planning proposal.

But SN Developments, the firm applying for planning permission, narrowly won the day. Councillors approved the plans by six votes to five.

The decision drew the ire of residents, whose shouts of “shame on you” and “disgraceful” echoed across the main council chamber after the vote.

Half a dozen residents spoke against the application, raising concerns about parking, the proposed height of the buildings and the impact on the Prospect Place conservation zone.

Geoff Spooner, who has lived in the area for 70 years, blasted the proposals as “ugly, ill-considered and entirely inappropriate”. He said few would be sad to see the bus depot go, but added: “Its departure sees an opportunity to replace it with something special, in keeping with this very special conservation area. Swindon has few such gems. This scheme is not a worthy manifestation of this opportunity.”

There was anger, too, that developers had promised just five affordable homes. South Swindon Parish Council’s bid for a new crossing to replace the lollipop man axed from Eastcott Road in May was blocked by borough planners.

A report for councillors said the development was unlikely to result in lots of schoolchildren moving into the area: “It would be unreasonable to secure a crossing point by the developer.” A new crossing point could also hit parking spaces.

Planning officer Andy Brown said the development met the borough policies. He estimated the flats were 38m from the dance school studio: "That’s a considerable distance and I don’t think the planning authority could sustain an argument [to reject the application] on that distance."

Coun Toby Elliott backed the Eastcott development, comparing it to the regeneration of the former GWR works: "I think what we have here, contrary to what people have said, is a high quality development on what is a very constrained site."

Patrick Graham, an architect for agents OSP, told councillors: "This is a complex and locally important site and it needs careful design to lift it from a tarmacked eyesore to a positive addition to this residential area."

The application was approved, subject to conditions.

Following the meeting, parish councillor Patrick Herring criticised the committee's decision to approve the application. He said: "It's very disappointing, particularly from the parish's point of view. They are sacrificing 100 per cent of the money that was supposed to have been spent on community infrastructure in the name of affordable housing, which is particularly galling because the number of affordable houses was so low."