KEVIN McCloud has announced new plans for an eco-development in Rodbourne, while confirming that his £19m project at Pickards Field is still on track.

The Grand Designs presenter spoke exclusively to the Adver to reveal his plans for a development of 40 homes on a site off Northern Road.

His company, HaB Housing, has been in talks with Swindon Council for more than two years over developing the 200-home site on Pickards Small Field, in Gorse Hill.

As reported in yesterday’s Adver a group of local residents have now thrown a spanner in the works by applying for part of the land to be designated a village green.

Mr McCloud said he understood that some people would object to the scheme, but thought their criticisms were unfounded.

The Northern Road development, which will include a portion of social housing, could be started within the next year.

Mr McCloud said: “We have agreed that we will shortly be starting work on a scheme of around 40 units in the Northern Road area. The site used to be a nursery and then a caravan site.

“The site already has planning permission but for a fairly unimaginative scheme. We are turning that around to provide something with the emphasis on imagination.

“We want to put in all of the things that we are suggesting for Pickards Field, such as a car share club, play areas, recreation facilities, and kitchen gardens.

“We are employing the same architects as the Pickards Field site, so it will be very much in the same vein.

“We would like to break ground this year, or at least some time within the next 12 months. Before then there will be an extensive period of consultation. We want to make sure residents are involved every step of the way.”

He denied that the new announcement meant the Pickards Field development was now on the back-burner.

He said: “There has been an application by some residents to have part of the land classed as a village green, so we have to wait to see what comes of that. But make no mistake, Pickards Field is still very important to us.”

On criticisms of the eco-development in yesterday’s Adver, Mr McCloud said he was confused by the protesters’ arguments.

He said: “I’m under no illusion that there are some residents who have very vociferous views on certain issues. But I think some of the criticisms are unfair.

“They were saying that the land is used by children for recreation. I have heard from some residents who say children do use that patch of land – but generally only to gain access to their property.

“In all the times I have been there I have only ever seen a few people dog walking. The area is right next to a playing field, which is sacrosanct. Also, we will be including recreation land in the development, which would be open to the whole community.

“We have taken on board what residents have said to us and made amendments accordingly. We want to work with the community on this project.”

The first public meeting to discuss the plans at the Northern Road site will be held on April 6 at the Western Community Centre, on Somerset Road, between 3pm and 6pm.