CAMPAIGNERS are preparing to go to battle with developers hoping to build more than a thousand homes on land next to Coate Water.

The Save Coate Water Campaign says it has obtained almost 50,000 signatures from people opposed to the development and is confident the proposal will not go through.

The Swindon Gateway Partner- ship wants to build more than 1,500 homes and a university campus on land at Coate, which is between the M4, Marlborough Road and Coate Water.

But developers caused a stir last week by going straight to the Government for a final say on the scheme. Save Coate campaigner Jean Saunders said: “The campaign is extremely confident.

“We are closing in on 50,000 signatures and hope to reach the figure in a couple of days’ time.

“We are still seeing that people are not totally aware about this issue so there is a lot more work to be done.

“But the feeling around Swindon is unbelievable, there is a strength around Swindon like I have never seen before.

“All the building in Swindon has led to faceless communities with no character.

“And people know if this place was built up it would end up looking like Hyde Park. Who wants to be in a place surrounded by buildings?

“The rest of the town is already like that.”

She added that the group have the support of numerous agencies including Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Countryside Agency and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.

Yesterday walkers enjoying the beauty spot said developers were ignoring local people by trying to force through a planning decision.

Mum Alison Kilford, 33, of Old Town, said: “It’s really bad.

“They are asking us what we think and then when we say we don’t want it they just go ahead anyway.

“I don’t think it is a very good idea because Coate has been here a long time.

“It is full today and nobody wants buildings ruining the landscape.”

Anna Lender, from Nythe, who walks and runs at the park almost every day says the park is in the top five places in Swindon.

She said: “We don’t have much here in Swindon and this is one of the places we do have, it is extremely valuable. Look at how full it is today.

“It is like what they did in the Front Garden, people didn’t agree with that either but they decided to do it anywa. It seems that the people of Swindon are always being ignored. We live in the area so we should have a say.

“Swindon is growing too fast and in the meantime they are failing to create community spirit along with it.”