DEVELOPMENT at Coate could see the beauty spot flooded by tens of thousands of people but would create hundreds of jobs.

Swindon Gateway Partnership (SGP) says that as well as 1,800 homes and University of the West of England premises – which are projected to eventually accommodate almost 11,000 students – there will also be 23 hectares of land earmarked for employment use.

With all these uses combined, the partnership predict that tens of thousands of people will use the site every day.

On the third day of the inquiry SGP and Swindon Council continued to tussle over the effect the proposed development at Coate would have on the town centre regeneration.

David Dewart, who is responsible for regeneration policy at Swindon Council, said: “The council’s concern at the university, leisure, retail and office land use proposed within the Gateway scheme relate to the scale and nature of this proposal.

“The proposed scale is significant and the nature of the land use is not sufficiently different to give the council the comfort that they would not diminish future investment in the town centre.

“Taken together the cumulative impact of this use located within the one area has the potential to create a rival destination to the town centre."

He went on to claim that the use of office space at the Coate site could have the effect of diverting investment away from the town centre and particularly from the flagship Union Square development.

But Christopher Lockhart-Mummery countered the claims by saying the facility was justified considering the number of people that would flock to Coate daily.

He said: “We will have, on the site, around four thousand residents, at full development 10,000 students or more and, at the very least, hundreds of workers.”

On the concerns over the local centre, Mr Lockhart-Mummery said the partnership wanted agricultural land on the site designated D2 use, which limited the potential uses for it.

He said: “D2 use encompasses a cinema – would you like a written commitment that there will not be a cinema on the site?

“What about a concert hall, a bingo hall, a dancehall? We are entering cloud cuckoo land. All we are left with is physical recreation and community use.

“Are you seriously suggesting that physical recreation and community use, such as a meeting place, is going to cause a rival destination when we have got tens of thousands of people on this site?”

Mr Dewart said that 2,500sq m of D2 land, for whatever use, had the potential to create a rival destination to the town centre.