SWORDS were crossed for the final time as the Coate inquiry came to a close, amid continuing arguments between the two sides.

Swindon Gateway Partnership (SGP) accused Swindon Council of basing their case on “fundamental errors”, while the council called the partnership’s behaviour an “embarrassing spectacle”.

The morning session was dominated by continuing wrangles between the two parties over issues including a proposed business park, land allocated to the Great Western Hospital and, critically, the phased transfer of land to the University of the West of England (UWE).

Anthony Creane, representing Swindon Council, said: “Swindon needs and wants a university – but not at any cost.

“It must be the right type of provision brought forward in the right way and sited in the right location.

“In this way the socio-economic benefits of having a university will be maximised.

“The appeal proposals offer a university in the wrong place which then brings forward housing and employment development in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

“The opportunities to address social exclusion, regeneration and sustainable development will be substantially curtailed, the recently adopted Development Plan strategy will be derailed and a harmful out of town development on a Greenfield site will have been permitted.”

Christopher Lockhart-Mummery, representing SGP, said if the appeal was granted “Swindon would finally secure the university it has sought for many years.

“The appellant is frankly astounded by the council's refusal to welcome such a scheme.

“Suffice it to say at the outset that it is confidently hoped that the Secretary of State will not share the council’s casual disregard for its own, extant development plan.

“It flies in the face of all that a plan-led system is intended to achieve and accomplishes nothing other than continuing to deprive Swindon, its people and the wider area of what the council’s own cabinet has termed a ‘key transformational project in Swindon’s economic and cultural future’.”

Other issues raised by Swindon Council included the effect on town centre regeneration and conflicts with planning policy.

SGP raised questions over the suitability of the council’s preferred town centre site, the town’s need for more housing and the linkages between employers and the university.

The inquiry officially closes on March 27, but no more submissions are expected.

David Richards, the planning inspector, will then consider the evidence and make his recommendations to the Secretary of State.