1998 February: Swindon's hospital information roadshow in Swindon

By Roger Ogle - 1 February 2019

Photo ArchiveCommunity

Plans for what was to become the Great Western Hospital were put on show in and around Swindon

Public consultation on where to site Swindon's new hospital was well underway in 1997 and 198- in advance of a planning application to Swindon Council in March 1998.

Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust proposed the hospital be built at Commonhead, next to the A419. But opponents argued that the loss of green belt land close to Coate Water and farm fields described by 19th Century writer and environmentalist Richard Jefferies would destroy more of the town's heritage. They were also worried that building beyond the the urban envelope would eventually lead to new houses between the hospital and Coate Water.

Indeed, the NHS hospital trust was given the green light to build and just a year later developers put forward proposals for the disputed land. A massive campaign led by the Richard Jefferies Society raised a petition of more than 50,000 signatures objecting to the loss of the historic landscape. A planning inspector rejected the houses, saying more housing to the west of Swindon should be built first.

However it was a temporary victory as a consortium of builders returned in mid-2000s with another development scheme which was eventually accepted. The houses at Bagbury Park are now mostly completed and occupied.

Pictured: Mark Smith of Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust talking about the plans at a public meeting in Freshbrook on 6 January 1998

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