THE countdown has begun to a meeting which will decide the future of Coate.

A date of November 15 has now been set for the hearing on the hated housing proposal, which would see 890 houses and a business estate built to the east of the country park.

The council threw out the plans in June, but the developer vowed to fight the decision on appeal.

Now a date has been given, residents and campaigners can start submitting objections.

Campaigner Jean Saunders, 65, of Longcot, said: “It’s extremely important that anyone who has any concern about the proposal actually writes to the planning inspector to make their views known.

“He doesn’t know the area. He has to rely on what he’s informed by the council and developers.

“This has been very much a community-led campaign. People have been concerned because they love Coate intimately, and know it well.”

She is pessimistic about their chances, but she did not think the campaign would make it this far.

“All the way through this process I’ve been the one who said we didn’t stand a chance. At the start everyone told me I was wasting my time. But I said, ‘we’ve got to do something’.

“I still feel we’re going to lose. But it’s not going to stop me and others fighting on.”

Keith Brain, of Upham Road, said: “With news of a November planning appeal, opposition to building at Coate remains unchanged.

“To me, the proposition that building in this area will protect or enhance environment and biodiversity and safeguard landscape views, remains a nonsense, a dismissal of meaning in the English language.”

Swindon South MP Robert Buckland, Tory MP for south Swindon, said: “There’s the opportunity for investors, the council or others to give evidence whether the appeal should be allowed or refused. I’d hope to be one of the people to give evidence against the appeal.

“Really the way is open for as many objectors as possible to express their concerns or their views about the appeal, so together we can try to do our best to persuade the inspector.”

The developer is the Swindon Gateway Partnership, made up of housebuilders Persimmon and Redrow.

The most recent set of plans for housing on the site is smaller than the application which was tabled a number of years earlier, and the developer has repeatedly stressed that impact on wildlife and the environment would be kept to a minimum.

It has offered a number of concessions to the campaigners, in particular the suggestion that it hand over control of the land between the planned development and the country park to a community-run trust.

This, it said, would be give the most cast-iron guarantee possible that the housing development would not sprawl out towards the much-loved park as many have feared. But it failed to win over objectors.

At the inquiry, the inspector will listen to all the arguments before making a ruling. The venue has not been confirmed and it is not known when the verdict will be given.

To have your say, quote reference number APP/U3935/A/11/2155834 .Write to Mr E Grace, Planning Inspector, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay Bristol, BS1 6NP.