MEMBERS of a close-knit community have expressed fears about the repercussions of building 12,000 homes just east of the A419.

The comments came at a meeting at Covingham Park Primary School where more than 50 people gathered to discuss the Government’s Eastern Development Area (EDA).

Covingham residents said their greatest concerns included an increase in flooding, traffic, crime and the loss of an area of outstanding beauty.

EDA homes are to be built north and south of the A420 in Covingham, Wanborough and South Marston on 300 hectares of land.

The area has been identified by the Government’s Regional Spatial Strategy to help Swindon meet targets for new homes over the next 20 years.

Outgoing North Swindon MP Michael Wills, who organised the meeting, in order to bring members of the community together, and to stir discussion, said he was neither opposed nor for the development.

The large majority were strongly opposed to any homes going on the site, which makes up a section of the Wessex Downs.

“People like living in this area because there are wide open spaces, it is quiet and there is a good community atmosphere,” said Andrew Mullis, 46, of Covingham.

“Well, if that is all taken away then what is the point of living here?

“Swindon is a town, but this would turn it into a city, like Reading – who wants that? If I wanted a city then I would move to London.

“Residents have been promised for years that no builders would cross the A419, what happened to that promise?

West Swindon is a new development and already has crime problems – makes you wonder what this place could turn into.”

Jean Coleman, who has lived in the area for 43 years, believes more building will lead to more flooding.

She said: “They’re planning on building those houses directly onto a flood plain. We are already at flood-risk – this will inevitably make it worse.

“We are also concerned that not enough is being done in terms of infrastructure, there’s worry that it will be a concrete jungle and that all the EDA’s traffic will drive through Covingham and Kingfisher Drive.

“If that occurs it could easily destroy our community.

“This is all comes on top of the fact that we will lose an area of outstanding beauty which is Covingham – and Swindon’s – best quality.”

Rupert Burr, owner of Roves Farm, in Sevenhampton, has backed the proposals, but says that to make the plan viable a 25-acre reservoir should be built to hold rainfall from the EDA, and neighbouring communities, to avoid flooding.

He hopes the 12,000 homes will then be able to use the 225m litres of ‘grey water’ for non water mains activities.

He also believes that enough renewable energy could be produced on his farm to heat the homes, using a Swedish-style district heating system.

Mr Wills said he hoped to organise another meeting, along with Covingham Parish Council, in January with professional and independent planners to help guide residents through the EDA’s plans.