Plans to build houses on one of Chippenham’s last remaining woodlands has sparked fury among people in the town.

A group of developers has approached North Wiltshire District Council to seek clarification on what issues would need to be addressed to develop the 46 hectares.

But the news has riled people in the town who see Birds Marsh wood as one of the town’s few remaining beauty spots.

Sheila Davies, 77, who lives on Hill Corner Road, said: “This would be an abomination. This is a beautiful part of the town and a real jewel in the crown when people drive in from the M4.

“It is very popular with dog walkers and families on a Sunday afternoon.

“It would be a crying shame if the wood was torn down for yet more housing.”

The woodland is home to a number of protected species including the marsh tit.

Protesters have now set up an online campaign group on the social networking site Facebook to raise awareness of the plans.

To date more than 500 people have signed up.

Simon Main, who lives in Broomfield and set up the Facebook group, said: “I just want people to know that things are happening, and a large part of green belt is under threat.

“The last thing I want to happen is that a planning application goes through without the majority of public being aware.

“I and many people who have signed up on the Facebook group spent most of their youth visiting Birds Marsh. Even today hundreds of local people visit the place every day.

“Birds Marsh is a stunning place 365 days a year, and so is the land that surrounds it.

“Let’s not let this get steam rollered through.”

Leader of North Wiltshire District Council Dick Tonge said: “At this stage we have only been asked to rule on what impacts and issues a possible development in this area of Chippenham might cause.

“We have not received any planning application.

“If an application is received, they have to supply the information we have asked for and we will then consult with local people for their views as part of the normal planning process.”.