A school, to be built in the style of a country church, will go ahead despite members of Swindon Borough Council’s planning committee being warned they could be approving a ‘white elephant’.

The Diocese of Bristol Academies Trust had its initial proposal for the design and layout of All Saints C of E Primary School deferred at the last planning committee meeting, more to do with concerns about the car park than the design of the building.

At a meeting on Tuesday, the diocese came back with a different design, separating staff cars, which will be parked all day, from those of visitors and allowing a circulation route in and out for parents dropping children off.

The new design also had a pedestrian path through the car park for children and parents.

The church’s spokesman Osian Roberts said: “We have worked very hard to address the concerns of the committee, and we have come up with the best design that remains feasible.”

The new design means the loss of seven spaces, and councillors were told by a council officer that the whole car park is about 20 spaces short of what would normally be expected.

But it had been deemed acceptable because the car park would be open at all times and not locked.

At the previous meeting, some members had expressed some reservations about the building’s design, especially Councillor Jane Milner-Barry.

But while councillors were not making further objections to that, the chairman of Wanborough Parish Council John Warr was.

He said: “This will have a huge 18-metre high cross visible from the Ridgeway and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – standing out like a sore thumb.”

Mr Warr also suggested the 420-space school was over-provision for the Redlands village and said it would be “a white elephant".

He continued: "Unless it’s a Trojan Horse and the council means to pull out of the non-coalescence zone and allow another 3,000 homes to be built between Redlands and Wanborough.”

Councillors approved the plans, which means the appearance of the centre of the Redlands village is now settled. 

Recently, Bellway and Vistry’s proposals for the village green and square have been given consent.

The school will front onto the southern part of the public space and a large pavilion-style building holding flats and a village shop on the ground floor will be the anchor building for the northern part of the centre of the village.