CONCERNS have been raised about proposed changes to the former home of a famous Swindon poet.

Born in 1877, Alfred Williams lived in a cottage called Ranikhet on Chapel Lane in South Marston for many years, having built the property with his wife Mary after returning from three years of military service in India in the First World War.

The self-taught died in 1930. The new owner of the house wants to add a detached dwelling and storage shed to the front of the property and add a new way for vehicles to access the site.

The applicant has tried once before to get this approved but the first attempt got refused, so a re-submitted application with a few tweaks has now been sent in.

Graham Carter is the vice chair of the Alfred Williams Heritage Society. He said: "We are not quite sure what the difference is this time because it looks virtually the same.

"It still detracts from the setting of the heritage asset which, while not a listed building, is still important to the town. Alfred Williams is a forgotten local hero and there is not much in the town to mark him - this building is a statement for what he stood for.

"If they are prepared to obscure it from view, it needs protecting. The house is right in the middle of the village, so neighbours are not happy with the plans."

Feedback sent in via the council's planning website is mainly against the proposal (reference S/21/1954) following a similar outcry after the first application came in. People can still make their views known until January 21.

Planning permission has already been given to build two properties in its back garden. A design and access statement explains the applicant's case for why the front garden should also be built on.

It reads: "We are not looking to remove or demolish any aspect of the existing property.

We accept that the dwelling has strong local connections but the applicant has spent considerable sums dealing with structural issues that threatened the very existence of this dwelling, and in doing so has saved the structure, putting it back into a habitable dwelling.

"The house has for many years been poorly maintained and the land surrounding the property left in an overgrown state.

"The property is of course now visible, due to works and maintenance by the applicant. The proposed dwelling would not interfere with the building itself and those wishing to see Ranikhet would now be able to do so."

This will be discussed at the January 18 meeting of South Marston Parish Council.