A NEW vision for the future of Swindon has been mapped out.

And it includes 1,000 new homes and significant changes to the town centre, which could see the railway station car parks lost.

The new houses in the plan will come in three areas – the main Swindon urban area, Highworth, and Wroughton.

Now there are six weeks for the people of the town to have their say.

A special borough council committee approved the latest update to the Local Plan – a legal document that sets out how Swindon will grow and develop, where houses should be built, where land should be used for industry and employment and how to change the town centre.

The new homes are on top of the thousands of houses already allocated for greenfield sites at Badbury Park, Wichelstowe, Kingsdown and the £30m 8,000-home New Eastern Villages expansion.

The cabinet member for strategic planning, Gary Sumner told the committee: “The new allocations of just over 1,000 homes will be placed in existing centres, mainly Wroughton and Highworth.

“These places already benefit from roads and school, while it might be necessary to put in some more infrastructure, most of it is there already and it doesn’t need major works.”

The plan shows additions of sites for just over 500 homes in Highworth, 250 east of Roundhills Mead, 200 off Shrivenham Road, and smaller numbers at Redlands Park and Lechlade Road.

In Wroughton there are two allocations of 300 homes each east of Swindon Road and east of Moormead Road. It would see the village expanding into green land past what has been its eastern boundary.

Other villages have smaller allocations, with Wanborough taking the highest number at 48, Chiseldon 42 and Bishopstone 39.

Three of the cabinet are ward councillors for the two most affected settlements – Maureen Penny in Highworth, and Brian Ford and Cathy Martyn at Wroughton.

While they all voted to approve the public consultation, they made it clear they were not in favour of the allocations in the draft plan for their areas.

And some residents will want to take them up on that.

In Wroughton James Canning said: “Why is always this area? There’s too much building as it is.

“We don’t want any more at all.”

Rebecca Fullerton said: “I will be writing about this. I saw the plans they had when they came out earlier this year and I saw there was a lot of opposition and complaints. I understand they’ve got to build houses somewhere, but there are loads of empty sites and knocked down buildings in the town.”

In Highworth Gary Llewellyn was concerned the 200-home allocation off Shrivenham Road and 40 houses in Redlands Park hadn’t been put to the people of the town before. He said: “They weren’t in the previous consultation for the SHELAA. I commented on those, but these have been added since.”

Sarah Wolfensohn lives opposite the site off Shrivenham Road, where developer Gladman is already thinking of lodging an application.

She said: “We came here 20 years ago to live somewhere nice in the countryside. It’s all just being eaten away.”

The site is outside the development area for the town, and the town council has said it has a policy of retaining Highworth’s distinct identity as a hilltop town, distinct from Swindon.

The draft plan also anticipates 375 houses to be built in the town proper over the next decade.

The majority – 250 – will be allocated to the cleared land at North Star House, with a further 60 on the site of Moredon recreation ground, next to the planned new sports hub and 35 on land previously used for Windmill Hill school.

The plan allocates more land for employment purposes.

The new suggestions are using the carriageworks in Railway Village, land north of Barnfield Close, and the old Groundwell park-and-ride site in Cricklade Road, which has been closed since 2010.

Liberal Democrat councillor Stan Pajak said: “I’d have thought that site would be ideally suited for housing rather than for business use. How many houses could be fitted on to the site.”

The plan says if it is allocated for housing the park and ride could accommodate up to 40 houses.

What happens next?

An extended public consultation of six weeks, and three days (to account for the Christmas bank holidays) will begin on December 17 and run until January 31.

The new draft plan is available to view on swindon.gov.uk and residents will be able to make comments online.

If significant changes have to be made to the plan the borough council could need to run a second consultation.

If only minor changes are needed, the amended draft plan could be sent to a meeting of the full council for approval, probably in spring, or early summer 2020.

If it passes that, then it will be sent to the Planning Inspectorate for an examination in public.

The planning inspector has to find the plan ‘sound’ for it to be adopted as a legal document.

All responses to the draft plan made during the public consultation will be passed to the government-appointed inspector who chairs the examination in public as part of the council’s evidence.