DEVELOPER Crest Nicholson has offered to establish a riverside nature park if its controversial plans for nearly 1,700 homes at Tadpole Farm are approved next week.

The developer has applied to Swindon Council to build 1,695 homes on the site at Blunsdon St Andrew, as well as other facilities, including a community centre, pub and primary school.

Following negotiations with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, the developer has offered to establish a 55-hectare nature reserve, most of which would be on the flood plain adjacent to the River Ray.

Crest Nicholson has also agreed to give the charity £200,000 towards the reserve.

The development has been controversial, with concerns about the suitability of existing roads, increased flooding, and the availability of school places.

During the first round of public consultation, the council received 470 letters of objection or concern, and nine in support.

Swindon Council’s planning committee will be asked on Tuesday, June 12 to authorise the planning department to grant outline permission.

The committee report says it had been agreed a nature park would be delivered, comprising the land on the flood plain, equating to 35.42 hectares, together with adjacent areas of open space incorporating a proposed 10.46-hectare woodland edge and 9.46 hectares south of the farmhouse.

It says Crest Nicholson’s intention is to bring the wildlife trust on board with an option to convey the ecological areas of the park to its management, although if not, it could be placed into trust under another organisation as an extension of the open space already proposed within the development.

The report concludes: “The area has the potential to be transformed into a nature park for thebenefit of biodiversity, nature conservation and residents and will offer a green link between the centre of Swindon and the Braydon Forest, Cotswold Water Park Nature Improvement Area and the proposed Cricklade Country Way.”

In a letter to members of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, director Dr Gary Mantle, said: “Having an area of open space so close to where people live will be a good opportunity for residents to simply step outside and be close to nature.

“We know this make a major contribution to our health and wellbeing.”

Blunsdon Parish Council chairman Stuart Boyd said: “The area of land was not down for development anyway and it’s preferable to have people looking after it rather than just letting it go wild.”