A CONTROVERSIAL plan to build thousands of homes on Swindon’s Front Garden has been shelved due to the tough economic times.

The announcement came after Swindon Council admitted its hopes to pick a developer to build 4,500 homes in Wichelstowe from a list of four companies, chosen earlier this year, will not go ahead this summer as they had hoped.

However, plans to build some 200 low-cost homes on the 460-acre site will go ahead as planned.

Councillor Peter Greenhalgh, (Con, Freshbrook and Grange Park), cabinet member for highways, transport and strategic planning, said no land would be transferred until the economic outlook improves.

He said: “Bearing in mind the present market conditions we have slowed things down.

“It is very much a case of cooling things down, seeing what happens and maintaining contact with those interested.

“As far as I am aware plans for the Wichelstowe will not be cancelled.”

Terry King, chairman of the Front Garden Action Group which is fighting the plans, said the plan was silly from the beginning.

He said: “We are rather pleased that they have run into trouble.

“This development was to be built next to a flood plain which is always flooding, the whole area is a flood risk.

“It was to be put near a motorway and an area where trains pass every two minutes.

“It will also disrupt wildlife, it has already chased away a herd of deer and lapwings.

“However, I don’t doubt that it will go ahead – they have already spent millions on the sewers and the roads.”

Councillor Mike Bawden (Con, Old Town) said that he was not surprised by the development as people in the building industry have been telling him that companies are simply refusing to sign deals at the moment.

He said: “I am not the slightest bit surprised, developers don’t want to enter into any agreements.

“In the original plans we had hoped to chose a developer this summer but that keeps getting pushed back.

“But I don’t think this is peculiar, it is not unusual to others across the country.”