A NEWLY-elected MP has told Parliament that Swindon is united in wanting to “protect and preserve” the town’s green spaces.

Robert Buckland, Conservative MP for South Swindon, told the House of Commons that concerns over inappropriate development were shared by residents of the town centre and suburban fringes alike.

And he welcomed the Government’s plans to scrap regional housing targets, under which Swindon was expected to provide 34,200 new homes by 2026.

Mr Buckland, in his first speech to Parliament, said further development was inevitable in a town that had “grown over the years and reinvented itself to quite brilliant effect” – but stressed it had to be sustainable.

He added: “I therefore welcome a change to the planning regime, so that my town can survive, thrive and prosper in the years ahead.”

Mr Buckland explained later that he was unhappy with “unsustainable” proposals to build homes in the eastern development area to the east of A419, near South Marston, and said he would be calling on Swindon Council to “look again” at figures on housing need that were generated in an economic boom and were now “out of date”. Similarly, he would ask Wiltshire Council to “rethink” development plans to the west of Swindon.

During his maiden speech, Mr Buckland paid tribute to his constituency – which he said was “at the heart of our country” – as well as his predecessor, Labour’s Anne Snelgrove, who had worked “extremely hard” over the past five years.

The MP said Swindon faced serious challenges with unemployment, which was now “twice as bad” as it was in 2005, and on town centre regeneration, which had been derailed by the recession.

Mr Buckland, a former barrister, also called for anti-social behaviour orders to be overhauled and replaced with an alternative system of “agreements” to address the problem of bad behaviour among young people.

He told MPs: “If we are to deal most effectively with criminality in our country, we need to call criminal offences crime, move away from the unproductive and costly anti-social behaviour structure and all the rhetoric surrounding it, and remember that at the root of it all, it is crime prevention and early intervention, particularly in the lives of young people, that we will see reaping real rewards, when we come to look back at our time in office.”