A NEW multi-million pound bridge must be opened to all traffic to reduce the enormous extra pressure on Swindon's roads that would be caused by the New Eastern Villages, councillors have urged.

Stratton parish politicians have repeatedly voiced concerns over a proposal to only allow pedestrians, cyclists and buses to use the planned Great Stall East bridge that would connect an 8,000-strong housing development to the rest of Swindon. Other traffic would have to use the A420, which is already very busy.

Outline plans for the Great Stall East section with up to 1,700 houses, a secondary school, a primary school, a sports hub, a park-and-ride, new recreation spaces and access from the A420 returned to Stratton parish councillors for discussion a year on from their initial submission.

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Coun Barrie Jennings summarised the situation: “We've talked about this a year ago. This is going to produce a lot of extra pressure on the White Hart roundabout and Highways England said that they want only 551 of the houses to be occupied because of this extra pressure until that roundabout and Junction 15 are sorted out, which I think is a thoroughly good idea.

"Also, Oxford City Council is objecting to the S6 bus going into the development because they say it will lengthen the journey times and make the journey less attractive and therefore encourage people to drive into Oxford instead. I disagree, the service already detours to several other places and adding a stop here would encourage people to go to Oxford by bus.”

Chair Coun Stuart Leach said: “We are all concerned by the impact on traffic from developments going on in Wanborough and South Marston, Barrie’s points are well-made and I agree with them."

Coun Roger Smith said: “It has to be open for all traffic to mitigate the impact. Highway infrastructure is key and the more options there are for traffic to use the better.”

Councillors wondered aloud about whether the borough would again humour their suggestion of an unlikely new addition to the area.

Coun Ann Brooker said: “We made a suggestion, slightly tongue-in-cheek, that we should have a Stratton Halt near there so that people could go to the town centre by train. With 2,000 people in Stratton and South Marston plus the people in the new developments, it could be viable.”

Coun Smith added: “GWR and Network Rail aren’t interested in that.”

Coun Leach added: “I’d have thought that reopening an East Swindon railway station would be a fabulous idea, but what do I know? A slow commuter train could be a good idea, but we can only wish.”