A MASTERPLAN for the expansion of Swindon has sparked an unprecedented reaction.

The number of individual responses to the council’s Core Strategy has been counted by the council — and amounts to about 1,400.

The figure is a new record and the council has said it will amend the strategy to take account of residents’ feelings.

But is has also been issued with a stark warning — listen to the people or else.

Among those who responded to the consultation was Steph Exell, membership secretary of the Oakhurst Residents’ Association. The 49-year-old former councillor, of Southwold Close, gasped when told of the full scale of the responses.

She had submitted a 22-page critique of Core Strategy’s plans for 1,700 homes at nearby Tadpole Farm.

“The Core Strategy is still not set in stone,” she said. “It hasn’t been approved by the council or the planning inspector, and I’m hoping Tadpole Farm will disappear. It’s not a sustainable site, and I hope the planning inspector will see that.

“I think what this shows is democracy is alive and kicking. We’re ready to fight. Bring it on. We’ll fight tooth and nail.

“They’re going to have, all over Swindon, so many communities who are angry and feel let down by the Conservative administration.

“They are going to find themselves in a bit of trouble at the ballot box if they are not listening to the community. They should be afraid for their votes.”

The Core Strategy is a blueprint for where Swindon’s new homes and infrastructure will be built between now and 2026.

In the east of the town, residents have been objecting to the Core Strategy’s plans for hundreds of homes around South Marston. Stuart Young, 52, of Manor Meadows, is part of a village working party on the issue.

“We’re particularly concerned about the impact of any development on flooding. We had major floods in the last few years.”

In a statement, the council said: “We are currently analysing the comments that have been made.

“We have received about 1,400 comments on the Core Strategy and we will be making changes to the strategy based on those comments.

“We will then go out for a further consultation on those changes towards the end of the year and the revised Core Strategy will then be submitted for independent examination early next year.”

It then added: “It would be fair to say it is the most responses we have received for a consultation of this scale.”