RECESSION woes have forced Front Garden developers to focus on affordable housing, but campaigners have accused them of jumping the gun.

The site has long been earmarked for a 4,500-home development but so far only a fraction of those have been built.

The stalled development has become a symbol of the slump in the housing market, with the International Herald Tribune in New York describing it as “a glaring example of a real estate market gone bad”.

A spokesman for the Wichelstowe development said: “In view of the current economic climate a key focus at Wichelstowe at present is on the affordable homes being marketed by Sovereign Housing.

“In terms of open market properties, Bryant Homes and Bloor Homes have marketing suites on site and both have recently opened show homes at East Wichel. General interest levels in properties at East Wichel have remained strong.

“There is clear pent up demand and enthusiasm for the location and the homes and environment being created. However, to date reservations have been placed on only a few properties, reflecting the wider property market regionally and nationally.”

Terry King, from the Front Garden Action Group, said: “At the moment there is a legal challenge going on over condition 99, which concerns a tunnel under the M4.

“As far as the council is concerned they have discharged condition 99 but the solicitors for the developers are saying there mustn’t be any occupation until that is resolved.”

Mr King also voiced concerns over a noise bund that is required to dilute the noise of the M4 and the fact that any homeowners would be moving into an area with almost no facilities.

He said: “There is no supermarket, no schools, no library, a very limited bus service. I think Sovereign are jumping the gun.

“Next month we will be writing to solicitors, estate agents, developers and so on to warn them that if they don’t let people know something about the history of flooding and noise at the site they may be opening themselves up to legal challenges in the future.”

This weekend Sovereign Housing Group set up shop in the Brunel Plaza to try to entice househunters with its 42 properties in East Wichel, available as part buy, part rent.

The homes range from three-bedroom houses starting from £184,000 full price to 1-bedroom apartments from £110,000.

Suzi Lewis, from Sovereign, said that there had been keen interest in the properties.

She said: “We have had a very good response so far.”

House hunters have until Monday March 30 to express their interest. Visit