PLANS to build a university campus on a Swindon beauty spot have been discussed in Parliament.

South Swindon MP, Anne Snelgrove, asked for the help of ministers to push for a town centre university, rather than the controversial site on land next to Coate Water.

The University Of The West Of England is currently in discussions with both Swindon Council and the Swindon Gateway Partnership about the respective sites.

The planning inquiry to decide whether SGP will be allowed to develop at Coate will be heard from February 10 at the Marriott Hotel.

Mrs Snelgrove raised the issue with John Denham, Secretary Of State, department for innovation, universities and skills, during a House of Commons debate.

She said: “Swindon needs a university now more than ever to help regeneration and recovery from recession, but if we are successful in our bid, will my right honourable friend help us work with the University Of The West Of England to establish a university in the town centre instead of using the Coate Water site, which most people oppose?”

Mr Denham replied: “My honourable friend has been a considerable champion of Swindon’s case for a university.

“I have visited the town and I know the Minister of State is going there.

“It is not for ministers in London to intervene in complex planning issues.

“However, I stress to my honourable friend and all honourable members who support new university developments that getting together an agreed local priority is critical.

“I know that she will do everything she can with the local authority and others to bring people together and get a consensus about the way forward, because that is essential.”

Swindon Council has been pushing for its preferred town centre site at North Star.

But John Rushforth, the deputy vice-chancellor at UWE, has told the Adver that the site is not really fit for purpose.

Mr Rushforth described the Coate site as having massive potential but admitted that he was concerned about the possibility of a public backlash.