People opposed to plans to build 12,000 homes to the east of Swindon believe their views are being ignored.
They claimed at a meeting to discuss the Eastern Development Area that local objections will have no weight and that those in power have not taken into account the implications on the infrastructure of Swindon.
Residents joined councillors in calling for greater self-determination and power over planning decisions at local level.
On Saturday at a meeting in Covingham Park Primary School organised by the parish council, residents outlined their objections, which have now been sent to North Swindon MP Michael Wills to pass onto the Government.
A 60-year-old Covingham resident, who did not want to be named, said: “How can it be right that a person who lives in an area doesn’t have the right to say what’s going to happen to them?”
Richard Seidel, 59, from Nythe, said: “If the government was forced to create a new town somewhere half way between Swindon and Newbury they would have to put in sewage treatment, schools and hospitals, whereas they can dump this on the town’s doorstep and say here they are, take care of them.”
The Eastern Development Area sits on land between South Marston and Wanborough, east of the A419.
It is part of the 37,000 homes the Government insists must be built in Swindon by 2026.
Former Swindon mayor Derek Benfield, 77, of Hawkswood, Covingham, who has been resident in Covingham for over 40 years, said before the meeting: “I’m obviously against it, but what I want to see is a damage limitation exercise.
“There’s never been a development in Swindon stopped in the last 50 years.
“I ask that if and when this development takes place, that the Section 106 money that the developer gives stay within the community.”
Many residents pointed out that there were derelict buildings in Swindon, including Eldene, and asked why these areas could not be developed first.
The 60-year-old Covingham resident pointed out that at the moment the new houses in Wichelstowe, south of Old Town, cannot be filled.
“I can understand that people have got to have somewhere to live,” she said.
“I think Swindon has reached its saturation level.”
Swindon councillors said that the local authority would have little choice but to accept the Eastern Development Area proposal in some form.
Council leader Rod Bluh said now it was just a question of negotiating with central government how much of the plan they would carry out.
“If it’s about do we build or do we not build, we’re having the wrong discussion,” he said. “It’s the quantity and where it’s going to be.”
Coun Glenn Smith (Con, Covingham and Nythe) said it was important that Swindon Council did not completely refuse development because then the plans for what happened would be out of their control.
Coun Bluh said when the council had opposed development in the north, it had led to the loss of the Section 106 funding given by the developers to go towards providing the necessary infrastructure.
He said that he wanted to see greater self-determination for local councils.
“We have got no control over our biggest issue and that’s fundamental,” he said.
The original article by Emma Streatfield is available here.