Wiltshire Council’s cabinet has signed a government grant agreement securing £75m funding for housing infrastructure, despite local opposition.

The works will include the creation of a new relief road to the east and south of Chippenham, linking the A350 at the northern and southern ends of the town, as well as specific improvement to J17 on the M4.

Philip Whitehead, leader of Wiltshire Council, said: “Entering into the funding agreement with Homes England is an important step forward in the Future Chippenham project. It means we will be able to drawdown significant government funding should planning be granted for development to proceed.

“We are progressing to the next stages of the Future Chippenham proposals which includes a public consultation on the road route options and the emerging masterplan early January 2021. This is a long-term project and we still have a long way to go.”

One objector, sitting MP for North Wiltshire James Gray, said when the grant was allocated last year: “I’m very disappointed the council is going through with the plans.

“I really take issue with the new houses the council wants to build as well as the road. I think the number of cars brought by the houses will not inly negate the relief road but make the traffic worse. I also think it will have a negative effect on our countryside, and could damage it significantly.”

Cllr Clare Cape, a Chippenham Liberal Democrat, is also against the proposal, saying: “My concern is the sheer number of houses that will be built alongside the road.

“I understand bringing in the houses may make the town centre busier and better but continuously building out and out does not build a better community.

“That eastern side of Chippenham is quite a precious part of our countryside. Is it really the best place for development in Chippenham or Wiltshire?”

The Housing Infrastructure Fund bid identified the opportunity to provide 7,500 homes at Chippenham. The level of growth for the town to 2036 including where new homes could be allocated is being considered through the separate Wiltshire Local Plan review process.

Any new housing will be examined by an independent inspector. Consultation on the Local Plan will be carried out early in the new year.