PEOPLE in Wantage reacted angrily last night after the town was chosen as the preferred site for a massive housing estate of 1,500 homes.

Residents, councillors and the town’s MP Ed Vaizey criticised the move and claimed it would have a crippling effect on traffic.

The Vale of White Horse District Council’s executive committee was given the choice of building in Abingdon or Wantage – but said Abingdon’s roads could not handle the traffic.

The 1,500 homes represents a 35 per cent increase in housing in Wantage – it would have meant an 11 per cent increase in Abingdon.

Liz McDonald, of Westfield Way, Wantage, said: “The local feeling against this is very strong. The proposals will result in the whole area being covered in houses.

“The A417 is already full to capacity. If the homes were in Abingdon people could just get on the A34.

“We will lose a beautiful bit of greenery, it will increase the possibility of floods at Charlton Heights and these people will have nowhere to work.”

The decision also means Abingdon will not get a southern bypass or the reopening of the A34 slip roads at Drayton, which had been included in the district council’s local development framework.

The homes will be located in the north east of Wantage, on land near Charlton. Abingdon’s homes would have been in the south west of the town at Drayton.

Bill Melotti, ward member for Charlton, said: “This will kill the town. These ridiculous housing targets have been forced on us by the Government, but the district council did not have to put all the homes in one place.”

The Vale was set a target to build 11,560 homes by 2026, set out in the Government’s South East Plan.

The council wants the homes in one place, in order to maximise funding for developing local services.

Mr Vaizey said: “If ever the people of Wantage needed clear evidence of the Liberal Democrat-run district council’s bias towards Abingdon, this is it.

“It was always a foregone conclusion these homes would go to Wantage and once again we’ve been left to carry the can.

“With 2,500 homes already planned for Grove there is just not the infrastructure to cope.”

Ian Field, who lives Mill Road, Abingdon, near the land which had been earmarked for development, said: “We’re very pleased with the decision. We had collected 700 signatures against the plans in just under a week, so the feeling is very strong.

“We were very concerned about the impact the development would have had on traffic on the A34. We also had worries because the homes would have been near an area prone to flooding.”

Mary de Vere, the Vale’s executive member for planning, said: “These recommendations, while being an incredible challenge to the Vale, also provide us with a great opportunity to develop the district’s infrastructure and economy.”

The proposals will go before the full council today and will then go out to consultation.