A controversial development comprising 62 new homes in Old Town is officially underway - and houses could be ready for sale by spring 2020.
Housing developer Taylor Wimpey has confirmed work has officially begun on its controversial development on the Ambrose Field site.
The now-titled Ambrose Gardens development is set to bring 62 new homes to Croft Road, Old Town, by spring 2020. Since submitting plans in 2017, however, the development has been met with a strong backlash from local residents and councillors who raised concerns over environmental hazards, increased traffic in the area and the moral and ethical implications of the development.
Councillors for Old Town, Jane Milner-Barry and Nadine Watts outlined their key concerns in relation to Swindon Borough Council's local plan. Since the local plan’s publication in 2012, 5,750 houses are set to be built in Wichelstowe by 2026. However, due to the delay of the development, a 20% buffer - which is introduced when a local authority is not delivering its proposed number of developments to carry out - was put in place on the current local plan which enabled Taylor Wimpy to submit plans for Ambrose Field to meet its housing requirement.
Cllr Nadine Watts (Lab, Old Town & East Wichel), was a key campaigner against the development. In 2017, after Taylor Wimpey received the greenlight for the development, she said: "It's really disappointing, and it all came down to money. A change in legislation is needed.
"I feel that Swindon Borough Council should have been up for the fight, but it was the fear of legal costs that deterred them from standing up for the residents of Swindon and defending the democratically determined local plan.
"If it is the threat of these costs which are leading the decision-making process of our planning committee, then localism is all but finished. I believe that significant harm will be caused by this loss of open green space.
"I tried to stand up for local residents, outlying their many valid concerns particularly in relation to the unsuitability of this site and traffic issues in the light of other nearby new house builds.”
Old Town Cllr, Nick Burns-Howell, also strongly opposed the plans, but says all that can be done now is to monitor the work closely. He said: “While I’m still disappointed that this location was granted planning permission, I recently met with Taylor Wimpey to discuss the steps the company can take to limit the disruption of the development on residents living nearby.
"I’ll be monitoring the works very carefully and would encourage residents to get in touch with me if they spot any issues or have ideas about how disruption can be limited.”
Ambrose Gardens is a follow on from Taylor Wimpey’s Wichelstowe and Greenfields developments. Danielle Heard, Sales and Marketing Director at Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire, said: “We’re so proud to have started work on Ambrose Gardens.
"Our team has been working incredibly hard on the planning application and land purchase, and now that the production team is on site, I’m sure we’ll start to see the development taking shape very soon.
“The first homes are due to go on sale in spring 2020, and after the success of our previous developments in the area we would recommend that interested buyers register for updates and get in touch so that they can get the latest news on the new homes as they take shape.”