People living on the Shrivenham Road on the approach to Highworth say they are gobsmacked at a decision by councillors to give the green light to a 250-home estate.

Even the members of Swindon Borough Council’s planning committee, which gave outline consent to the plan by Gladman Developments, did so with visible reluctance and resignation.

The concerns of residents and councillors focused not just on the narrowness and danger presented by the road just south of Highworth's centre, but the impact on schools and GP’s surgeries.

Worries about the road and the risk increased traffic would bring to pedestrians, especially children going to Highworth Warneford School, saw a decision deferred in December last year so councillors could be given more information on what could be done to reduce the danger.

Gladman Developments said it would extend the footpath and install a light-controlled crossing.

That didn’t impress Sam Hackett who lives just across the road in Wragg View. She said: “All they’re going to do is extend the footpath and put in one crossing. That’s nothing. At the moment all day every day we see trucks coming through because of the road works in Swindon, using this road as a cut through.

“The road cannot cope with the traffic now. It won’t be able to cope with more from a development five times the size of this one, and then there’s the surgery and schools as well.”

Her husband Joe said he was “gobsmacked” when he learned the scheme had been given permission.

Another nearby neighbour David Brown was equally unhappy: “It’s a disgrace - Highworth Town Council asked Swindon Borough Council to refuse this, but councillors are happy to give it the go ahead.

“This road is now such a speed run and a rat run for lorry drivers avoiding the Redlands work and roadworks in Swindon, but I think they’ll carry on using it for ever.”

Walking her dog nearby Elizabeth Scurlock said: “I’m appalled. It seems developers can just build where they want. There are so many houses being built here - there’s Wragg View, Redlands, there are plans for another 80 houses opposite the 250, it’s strangling the town.”

At the planning meeting new councillor for Blunsdon and Highworth Vijay Manro suggested the developer had not provided sufficient information about how it would deal with road traffic and safety concerns.

Veteran ward member Alan Bishop nearly disqualified himself from voting on the matter for pre-determination by urging councillors to refuse the application.

He said: “I have never seen a planning application to produce as much opposition in Highworth as this one.”

Helen Ball, speaking for the developer, said the specific highways issue causing the deferment had been addressed in co-operation with Swindon Borough Council.

She said the development would “add to the vitality of Highworth town centre and its shops.”

She added that Highworth Town Council could expect £260,000 in section 106 contributions from the developers to spend on projects and facilities in Highworth.

Coun Peter Watts pointed out while there would be a light-controlled crossing, people from the development would have to use an uncontrolled crossing and then cross Shrivenham Road again to get to the school.

He proposed the application be refused on grounds of road safety and traffic generation.

But after discussion the new committee chairman Matthew Courtliff asked for more substantive reasons to refuse consent.

The motion to refuse fell three votes to seven with two abstentions

John Ballman moved the application was approved, which was passed eight votes to three with one abstention.