CONTROVERSIAL plans to build nearly 250 homes on green space at Gorse Hill top the list of election issues for residents in the new Gorse Hill and Pinehurst ward.

Developer Haboakus plans to build 241 homes on the former allotment site, Pickards Small Field, and the open space known as Kembrey Grass, both of which are council-owned.

Swindon Council’s cabinet agreed in February to a number of proposals, including for the authority to sell the land subject to several conditions, including the granting of planning permission.

The cabinet and Haboakus say the £30m scheme would have a number of benefits, including providing affordable homes, enhancing the wildlife, and supporting the economy by increasing the number of residents and creating work and training opportunities.

However, residents have raised a number of concerns, including that the proposal would reduce open space in Gorse Hill, break laws, increase flooding, and potentially impact on Southbrook Recreation Ground.

Josie Lewis, of the Friends of Kembrey Grass community group, said: “It’s going to be a big election issue. That’s going to be a deciding factor in Gorse Hill and Pinehurst and Ferndale.

“It’s a major issue across the town, the fact the council down want to listen, the Cabinet, the members and officers don’t want to listen.”

Resident Sally Nunan, 42, of Sycamore Grove, Pinehurst, said she helped to gather a petition with about 800 signatures so far, calling for the council to abandon the project.

The mother-of-one said: “I think that will be a big issue because it will have a big effect. It’s fair enough building all these houses but only when you’ve got the amenities.

“Are you going to build another two schools because you are looking at least 500 children? And then you’ve got the traffic, the doctors, the dentists, and then you’ve got the drainage.”

In relation to other issues in Pinehurst, Sally said the council needed to install more dog waste bins and take more action on fouling, as well as work to provide more facilities for young people.

In Gorse Hill, resident Maurice Small, 69, of Poulton Street, said he wanted the former Somerfield supermarket in Cricklade Road, or the land on which it stands, to be bought back into use.

He added: “That end of Gorse Hill seems dead – it’s all dead, the shops are sort of dead down there.

“When we had Somerfields there before, everyone was going up and down and meeting everybody and it seems like now they only go as far as the Salvation Army shop.

“It would improve the area, it’s a rat hole at the moment. Either pull it down and make it into a car park or do something with it.”

Mr Small, a member of Gorse Hill Neighbourhood Watch, said more action also needed to be taken to tackle cycling on pavements and the problem of drug addicts, whose discarded needles he often finds on the pavement.

The new Gorse Hill and Pinehurst ward retains the name of the existing ward but has grown slightly, mainly into parts of the current St Philip and Penhill wards.