THE battle for Coate Water may be over but the war is yet to be won, according to campaigners.

John Denham, the Secretary Of State For Communities And Local Government, yesterday ruled a plan to build 1,800 homes and a university campus near the beauty spot should not go ahead.

Protesters said they will use Mr Denham’s decision to challenge any development on or near Coate — including a Swindon Council plan to build 750 homes at the site.

The council has included a development to the north and east of Day House Lane in its Core Strategy – a planning blueprint for the next 20 years.

The plan shares several aspects with the rejected Swindon Gateway Project project, including a primary school, 5.5 hectares of land for expansion of Great Western Hospital and 15 hectares of employment land.

But the council has referred to the plans as “a much smaller development... protecting the country park with a large buffer.”

Jean Saunders, who has been campaigning against development at Coate for the last six years, said: “I will be reading through the Secretary Of State’s comments to see if there’s anything we can use to challenge the council.

“We don’t trust that the council will keep their promises about retaining the buffer zone between Coate and the proposed development.

“They have broken their promises before – when they allowed the hospital to be built, then said that would be the only development on Coate, then opened the door to the university.

“When the University of Bath didn’t come they then said if there was no university there would be no development.

“No development does not mean less development. Zero means zero.”

Mrs Saunders urged people in the town to air their views on the Core Strategy, which is now undergoing public consultation until September 21.

To get a copy of the strategy and a feedback document go to or pick one up at any library or council office.

Coun Peter Greenhalgh, Swindon Council’s lead member for sustainability, transport and strategic planning said the SGP development and the council’s plans were completely different.

He said: “The area to the north of Day House Lane identified in the Core Strategy is far enough away to have a minimal impact.

“The impact of SGP’s proposal would have been measurable.

“We are committed to the buffer zone between the country park and the development and to create as minimal an impact on the area as possible.”

Terry King, of Bankside, in Old Town, has campaigned against large scale development in Swindon, including at Wichelstowe and Coate.

He said: “I would be surprised if the council is allowed to go ahead with this development after the Secretary Of State’s comments.

“This surely puts an end to plans to build anywhere near Coate.”

Developers have not given up building at Coate

THE developers behind the controversial Coate project last night vowed to continue to work with Swindon Council to build on the site — but councillors have other ideas.

A spokesman for SGP said: “While disappointed with the decision, we are pleased that the Secretary Of State has confirmed that this is a sustainable location for development.

“We remain committed to developing a scheme for Swindon Gateway which will still deliver major benefits and at the same time satisfy local planners. We will continue to work with the council to agree an alternative proposal.”

However, Coun Peter Greenhalgh, the cabinet member for sustainability, transport and strategic planning, said: “I would be extremely reluctant to discuss any proposal for that site that they put forward.

“Obviously if they put a planning application in we have to consider it but we have no plans to work with anyone to develop on that site.”

SGP has six weeks to challenge the decision but can only do so on legal grounds.