PLANS to build hundreds of homes on the former Headlands School site may not come to fruition for several years, according to a Swindon councillor.

Councillor Garry Perkins, Swindon’s cabinet member for children services, says the current economic climate would make the development of 200 homes on Swindon Academy’s playing fields in Headlands Grove some way off.

However, Coun Perkins, pictured, says the demolition of the school buildings to make way for green space would need to take place as soon as the Academy moves to its new Beech Avenue home next year.

“We need to demolish the school building when the school moves because an empty building would leave itself open to vandalism,” said Coun Perkins.

“I don’t envisage there being any housing development on the site for quite a while because the value of land has virtually halved. It makes sense to get in the planning application for when and if the land is sold in two, three or five years’ time. In the current climate, I don’t think we will see any house building on the site in the short term.”

Coun Perkins says the council is forced to sell land to invest in education, as it is so poorly funded by the Government. He pointed out that schools in Swindon are the 17th worst funded in the country.

Nearby residents and Stratton St Margaret Parish Council vented anger at the building of homes in Headlands Grove last week.

Coun Perkins said: “Since we are committed to making sure our schools and communities are improved, the Conservative-run Swindon Council has used land sales to build up capital receipts to pay for investment.

“In Stratton and Pinehurst not only are we building and extending the Academy to include a new primary school, but we are also building a new community facility that will include a library and offices for the Primary Care Trust.”

He also said a football pitch is planned near to the Headlands Grove houses and the council is trying to ensure the school gymnasium will be kept for the community to use.

The council also proposes that playing fields be built on Merton Fields, which is currently a park.

Coun Perkins said: “The area had been leased to the parish council, which had resulted in it being underused. Having massively increased access to football pitches and sports facilities across the borough, we knew from residents that there was a genuine demand for pitches in this part of Stratton.

“The borough is showing leadership in putting to use this under-used resource to provide more sports and leisure facilities.”

Stratton St Margaret Parish Council wants to keep Merton Fields as an open green space, as it is used by walkers.

The parish council received two rounds of applause during a public meeting in the baptist church in Upper Stratton for supporting residents. It has outlined 18 objections to the proposals on Headlands Grove and Merton Fields.