GOVERNMENT plans to build 12,000 homes to the east of Swindon have run into their first hurdle after councillors opposed the scheme.

Most members took the view last night at the Civic Offices, Euclid Street, that the council should follow the lead of some 1,300 residents who wrote letters of opposition to the Eastern Development Area (EDA) and try to stop the plan in its tracks.

Councillors also agreed that the council should attempt legal challenges to the overarching document, called the South West Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS), which is currently in its draft stages and calls for 36,000 homes, including the 12,000 in Swindon, to built throughout the south west.

Both the Tories and the Lib Dems claim that some of the plan’s missing ingredients include appropriate infrastructure like roads, schools, hospitals and other community facilities.

Many residents also feel the scheme is too large for the proposed land – which lies east of the A419.

Councillor Russell Holland (Con, St Margaret) said: “People are very concerned about this project and we are saying they are right to be concerned about it.

“We do agree that some development is necessary but it is the scale of this development that we do not like.

“There are a huge number of homes involved in this scheme but there is no money set aside for infrastructure.

“How will all the roads, which are expected to transport thousands of new residents, be paid for?

“We would like the Government to stop and look at it again in light of more than a thousand residents’ concerns.”

He added that St Albans District Council has been able to stop part of its version of the strategy through legal challenges.

Councillor Rod Bluh said: “The RSS is a flawed policy by any definition, there are expected to be 37,000 houses with no promise of infrastructure whatsoever.

“The RSS is a top-down policy and social engineering at its worst.”

Councillor Phil Young said: “Nothing should be imposed on councils. This is too big and hasn’t got the infrastructure. The RSS should not be supported.”

However councillor James Grant (Lab, Western), who opposed the motion, said: “This plan will deliver much needed affordable housing to Swindon.

“We should be trying to make sure that the development is eco-friendly and includes green technology – we should back this development for the future of Swindon.”

Letters will also be written to both Swindon MPs to ask for their support in backing the motion. All Labour members present voted against the motion, other than Councillor Junab Ali (Lab, Central), who abstained from the vote.