A DISPUTE over a road which could have caused a lengthy delay costing millions to the New Eastern Village development has been won Swindon Borough Council. For now.

The row, settled in the High Court, was between the local authority and DB Symmetry. The warehousing company owns Symmetry Park, just off the A420 road to Oxford near Gablecross police station, and wanted to keep the road running through the site as private for its own contractors and employees.

The council said it had given permission for the industrial development with the condition that it could be used as a “fully-functioning highway” and make up part of the road network serving the 8,000 homes which are to be built in the massive expansion of Swindon.

In January, after an appeal by DB Symmetry, planning inspector Wendy McKay ruled in the private company’s favour – saying planning conditions simply meant that the road should be properly made to carry traffic “whether private or public. It does not require the roads to be made available to the public”.

At the time the council said it might take the matter to a higher court.

It did so and has emerged triumphant.

In the High Court judge Geraldine Andrews said: “The planning condition is designed to ensure that the envisaged means of access to, from and over the site linking the A420, in particular, and other exterior roads to the wider New Eastern Villages is of an adequate standard, and what the council has required the developer to provide in this context are highways, ie public roads, that are fully functional for public use because they have been constructed to the specified standard prior to occupation and first use of the units which they will serve within the site.

“The word ‘highway’ in the condition would be understood by the informed reader to bear its usual meaning. That is what the access roads were intended to be.

"It is not being used in this context either as a synonym for ‘road’ or to describe the part of a road used by vehicles rather than pedestrians.”

The council’s cabinet member for corporate services, Keith Williams, told the scrutiny committee: “The legal services team have been successful in defending a judicial review of a challenge in respect of a planning decision for New Eastern Villages.

“ If that defence had not been successful this would have meant significant delays to that project and additional costs running into millions.”

His colleague Gary Sumner, the cabinet member for strategic planning, said: “We are delighted with the outcome of the High Court proceedings which established the principle of the access to the New Eastern Villages and awarded costs to the council.

“The New Eastern Villages is an 8,000-home development with a range of access points formed as part of a comprehensive planning strategy, and it was this principle of open access we sought to protect.

“As there are still outstanding legal matters, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”

Work is soon to start on a £72 million project to build and improve roads to service the new villages, before houses are built there.

The first part of the scheme will be to increase capacity and install lights at the White Hart Roundabout, and work will start in October.

An entirely new road running 1.5 miles from South Marston to the Commonhead roundabout will be constructed to give the development easy access to the A419 and M4 and areas south of Swindon.