Concerns about contaminated land on the site of a proposed housing development persist despite reassurances from developers.

One Swindon's revised plans to build 262 homes between Rodbourne Road and Wootton Bassett Road have worried council authorities and nearby neighbours.

The Residents Association of Westcott and the surrounding district disputed Turley's claims that biodiversity would not be affected and feared building near the railway lines would disturb toxic chemicals.

Representative Graham Woodward, of Nelson Street, wrote the below letter to the Adver:

Residents are all too aware that they have now put up with the threat from this unwanted, unfeasible, and quite possibly unviable application, to build on the Newburn Sidings site that is not suitable for building according to SBCs High-level SHELAA report, since July 2018.

According to a Turley spokesperson all of six years later, the proposed enhancements to the area will support the existing biodiversity, whilst providing new habitats for birds, bats, and amphibians, and increase landscape connectivity and protect areas of ecological value.

Contrary to this, residents rightly argue that the existing biodiversity will be all but destroyed at the site, and that an overall net gain of 10 per cent is impossible to achieve on such narrow site with very poor amenity. In fact, the biodiversity and with it the wildlife will be lost forever.

Turley say a range of studies has been undertaken to support the planning application but fails to mention poor site access, existing traffic congestion which would increase substantially, elevated unstable ground, increase in flooding as part of the site overlooks a category 3 flood zone, increased traffic pollution for Kingshill Road and Westcott Place, disturbance of highly toxic ground, a very narrow site with poor amenity and overlooking of existing properties, and the effect to the skyline vista of Westcott Recreation Ground.

Residents are fully aware that the Newburn Sidings that sit almost on the doorstep of their properties are highly contaminated with asbestos, heavy metals, poly phenols, and hydrocarbons, and many have lost loved ones including myself to the Swindon disease or mesothelioma which is asbestos induced cancer.

This is why they have now asked the rhetorical question of ‘One Swindon Limited’ and the agent Turley so very many times now on the SBC planning portal as to how they will demonstrate to the satisfaction of the residents of Westcott and the surrounding district that disturbing the toxic, man-made ground will not put their lives and that of their families for up to 25 years into the future in extreme danger?

To date, residents have heard absolutely no response to this vital question, and it would appear that ‘One Swindon Limited' puts much more importance on profit in comparison to people’s lives.

Residents have seen enough of the ‘Swindon Disease’ and the effect that it has had on them over the years, whilst people still continue to die from it.

Turley is seeking to justify a totally contrary view when stating, and I quote, "That there are no environmental, technical, or other reasons why planning permission should not be granted in this case".

Well finally, it has taken all of the last six years with two ‘resubmissions’ and a couple of revisions during that time, however, we appear to be no closer to the proposed scheme being suitable for being put before a SBC planning committee meeting.

Residents are now suggesting that SBC should now be seriously looking at removing it from the Planning Register in a similar manner to what has recently happened to the Tented Market flats plan.

After all, the Newburn Sidings are unsuitable as building land.