PRECIOUS archaeological treasures could be destroyed by a proposed 12,000-home development to the east of Swindon.

This is the view of an expert who has been speaking out against the Eastern Development Area (EDA) for more than a decade.

Houses, community facilities, schools and shops are planned for the EDA, on land between Wanborough and South Marston.

Plans for development on the site were first mooted by developer David Wilson Estates in 1998, when they were criticised by Bryn Walters, director of the Swindon-based Association for Roman Archaeology.

Now Mr Walters says that, 11 years later, the proposals still threaten archaeological gems in the area.

He said: “At the time we were criticised by the developers for raising concerns about the potential archaeological sites that could be destroyed. They said it was too early to raise those issues but here we are 11 years later and they still haven’t been dealt with.

“The whole area is scattered with sites of all eras. From neolithic to bronze, Roman, Saxon and Medieval. We have a huge Roman town which the original developers acknowledged but which we now know extends over a far greater area.

“There are a lot of really exciting things in that area and there may be more we don’t know about yet.”

Mr Walters said he had evidence of extensive Roman developments adjacent to Dorcan and towards Coate, where a bronze-age site could be. He said there is also a possible Roman villa site at South Marston extending to more than an acre.

He said “I would like to see the whole EDA project scrapped. It is a ludicrous plan which is being imposed on the town by the Government. Nobody wants it and it could do a lot of damage.”

Wiltshire’s county archaeologist Melanie Pomeroy-Kellinger agreed with Mr Walters’ concerns over the site.

She said: “There have been a lot of potential sites identified there. There needs to be more detailed studies to assess exactly what the issues are for this site.

“Until we have seen an environmental statement I can’t really give an opinion on any development.

“The masterplan that has been developed does give some protection. There are a number of constraints and archaeology is one of those constraints.”

Coun Peter Greenhalgh, the cabinet member in charge of the development, said: “We are aware of these concerns and before any development took place we would need to look more closely at the archaeological impacts.

“There have been cases, such as in Abbey Meads 10 years ago, where a Roman sanctuary was found and now that site will never be built on.

“I would ask that anyone who is a specialist in this field to make a submission to the council so that it can be considered as part of the consultation on the EDA.”