CAMPAIGNERS against plans to build a light industrial park on green fields between Swindon and Wanborough have said they fear the proposals might also lead to houses being built on the site.

The South Swindon Protection Group was set up in opposition to a planning application by Wasdell Group, a Swindon pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution company, for a new headquarters on land off The Marsh near the A419 and M4.

The company wants to build itself a new headquarters and has asked for outline permission for a second phase of a science park, hoping to attract high technology companies to the area.

Villagers opposed say they are suspicious about why the company wants permission to develop so much land. In a statement the group said: “Proposals submitted by Wasdell clearly show its requirements are 8.28 acres in phase one for packaging, production and warehouse storage and in phase two a further 112.4 acres for expansion.

"That’s 12.4 acres. The total area of land proposed to be developed is 99 acres.

“One can only speculate what the developer’s commercial intentions are for such a sizeable inflation.”

The group fears the plans, if granted permission by borough council planners, could include a later element of housing.

Its spokesman added: “Once planning permission is granted there’s no going back, as we have seen recently at Badbury, in close proximity of this site and Junction 15 of the M4.

“This was a similarly speculative proposal that was passed on the basis of one set of criteria yet when the site failed to attract interest - after five years of vigorous marketing -it swiftly changed into residential housing under permitted change rules.

“In the process this increased the value of the site to the landowner and developer around thirty-fold.”

It said agricultural land is worth about £10,000 per acre, commercial land £50,000 and residential land £300,000 an acre.

The group’s planning officer Richard Hughes said: “This proposal is the equivalent of a development the size of Wembley Stadium built on agricultural lowlands, within feet of a defined area of outstanding natural beauty designated as a rural area for protection. Phase 1 usage should be re-designated as Storage and Distribution rather than the much more benign General Light Industrial. The usage for Phase 2 is vague in the extreme; the planning application misleadingly and erroneously described it as a science park; we have expert advice that it in does not qualify as such in any respect whatsoever.”

Wasdell Group did not respond to a request for comment.