Developers are said to be “running riot” as they eye up Chippenham’s green fields to build 2,545 new houses.
Countryside campaigners are anxious Chippenham may be turned into a “mini Swindon” as major planning applications are prepared in the wake of the core strategy inspector throwing out allocated housing sites and saying 500 extra new builds are needed.
Robert Hitchins Ltd is consulting the public next week on its plans to build 500 houses in north Chippenham, between Birds Marsh and the B4069 by Langley Burrell.
To the south of the town, Redcliffe had an application for 95 homes off Rowden Lane approved in February. And on Monday town councillors are making a site visit to nearby Rowden Park, between Charter Road and Patterdown, where Redcliffe Homes and Crest Strategic Project have now upped their ambitions from 800 to 1,200 homes.
The plans, yet to be submitted, include a country park.
The announcement comes just three weeks after outline planning permission was granted for a North Chippenham Consortium (NCC) development of 750 houses to the south of Birds Marsh, to the dismay of campaigners.
Nick Watts, Wiltshire Councillor for Chippenham Hardenhuish, said: “It is a triple whammy.
“I don’t think Chippenham needs all three. Since the inspector has refused the core strategy and asked Wiltshire to do it again, we’ve no way of knowing if these 500 houses are needed to make up the five-year housing supply.
“I don’t think this [east of Birds Marsh] is a welcome addition to Chippenham. We don’t need it for the link road, as that is provided by the other developer [NCC].
“Their Northern development was planned with a view to maintaining a rural atmosphere, with paths and stiles. That is going to be lost if it’s going to be closed in by more houses and pushed even further away from open countryside.”
The 44-hectare scheme would pick up where the NCC houses above Hill Corner Road finish, below Barrow Farm.
As well as 13 hectares of different types and sizes of homes, accessed via two new roundabout junctions on the B4069 Swindon Road, plans include nearly 21 hectares of strategic open space and six hectares of public open space.
The wood would be at least 100 metres away from the houses. The developer also promises a primary school, play areas, a local centre or shop and half a hectare of employment land.
Melody Thompson, town councillor for Hardenhuish, said: “I can’t see any advantages of this application for the town. That is the reason the site has never been included in any of the earlier versions of the core strategy but the town and county are vulnerable to rogue applications like this at the moment.”
Martin Naylor, of Friends of Birds Marsh, said: “Unless the people of Chippenham realise that the town is going to turn into a mini Swindon then the developers are just going to run riot.”
A spokesman for Robert Hitchins Ltd said: “The proposed scheme would provide much-needed houses, including affordable homes, for the people of Chippenham in accordance with the independently assessed housing needs for the town. We would very much like local feedback before proceeding.”
The revised core strategy requires 2,625 houses are built by 2026. Public consultation on the document ends on Tuesday May 27. Members of the Robert Hitchins project team will be on hand to answer questions on Friday, May 16, at Kington Langley Village Hall from 2-8pm.