Friday, March 02, 2007


On 1st March 2007 the University of Bath announced that they were pulling out for good from the Coate development proposals. The so-called Swindon Gateway plan earmarked two square kilometres of countryside to the east and south of Coate Water Country Park for a campus, 1800 houses and offices. The university cite two main reasons for the decision: an inability to arrive at an agreement with Persimmon Homes and Redrow Homes who were offering them free land for a campus and a change in government funding preferences for higher education.

The truth of the matter is that building works are highly constrained by the existence of multiple environmental assets at Coate and Badbury Wick whilst a recent archaeological study has revealed that there are even more “no go” areas than previously detected. As a result, the house-builders were putting a squeeze on the land they first allocated to the university and even this was on the most ecologically sensitive area surrounding Coate Water nature reserve.

Despite the university’s announcement, the house builders state that they intend to submit a new planning application around May and hope to start building their housing and office estate in 2008. They say that they would leave an area for a campus even though they know that no other university wants the land.

The Save Coate! battle is not yet won. Swindon Borough Council has stated most emphatically – NO UNIVERSITY – NO HOUSES. But Redrow and Persimmon Homes will try every trick in the book to push through their proposal.

30,000 people have signed a petition asking for a substantial buffer of countryside to be left around Coate Water to protect its national designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, to protect its wildlife and to safeguard the views to and from Liddington Hill and the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Moreover it is a landscape treasured by Victorian nature writer, Richard Jefferies (1848-87) born at Coate, who drew inspiration from it.

The Jefferies Land Conservation Trust seeks to acquire the proposed development area, particularly around Coate Water, in order to enhance the nature reserve and to keep Coate Water as a COUNTRY park.


- Sign the Save Coate! petition at the link.

- Write to Mrs Vivien O’Connell, Planning Department, Swindon Borough Council, Premier House, Station Road SN1 1TZ stating why you object to development next to Coate Water Country Park.

- Write to the Leader of SBC, Councillor Roderick Bluh at the Civic Offices, Euclid Street SN1 2JH supporting his stance of NO UNIVERSITY- NO HOUSES.

- Join the Jefferies Land Conservation Trust