THE site of the old White House Hotel has been sold to a housing developer.

After it was proposed that a probation hostel be built there, residents mounted a campaign which culminated in a 1,200 signature petition to the Mayor of Swindon saying that they feared it would start a crime wave.

A scheme to build 36 flats on the now-cleared site of the White House was announced in January by landlady Margaret Byrne.

But Mrs Byrne confirmed that she has sold the site for more than £1m to home builders George Wimpey.

It is believed that the firm plans to build flats on the site. Currently there is planning permission for 36 flats.

Mrs Byrne said that she had hoped to have the homes built but for personal reasons had decided to sell to the developer.

She explained: "Some people feared it may still become a bail hostel but I want to put everyone's mind at rest.

"The sale went through on Thursday and I am certain that Wimpey Homes will not want to build a bail hostel there. I understand they are going to build flats

"I know that people were still worried about what might happen to the site.

"I've moved to Lydiard now and I'm going to wait and see what is around before I decide what to do next."

Mrs Byrne was offered £665,000 by the Wiltshire Probation Service for the site but refused to sell.

The 24-bed all male hostel could have housed sex offenders, paedophiles and other violent criminals in spite of being just yards from family homes.

The probation service has confirmed that it is still searching Swindon for a suitable location for the hostel.

It is believed to be looking at two or three unnamed sites within walking distance of the courts in Swindon town centre.

Local councillor David Nash (Lab, Central) said: "I am delighted to hear this. When the campaign to stop the bail hostel was running last year one of the things we made clear was that none of the residents objected to the site being developed as such, the concern was what went in its place.

"There is still concern that such a hostel may be built somewhere else in the area and we are doing our best to find out what is happening."