Developers have submitted a planning application for a 1.25 million sq ft business park on Swindon’s eastern outskirts which they say will create more than 2,000 jobs and meet demand for new warehousing.
The 40-hectare (98-acre) site, at Marston Farm south of the A420 and close to the Sainsbury’s and Toys R Us stores, has been earmarked by Swindon Borough Council as suitable for additional employment land.
It forms part of Swindon’s extensive eastern expansion area – the next phase of the town’s development. Last week Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) called for this Eastern Villages development area to be fast-tracked to help grow Swindon’s economy.
Ultimately 6,000 homes, schools, health facilities and highways improvements are proposed for the area surrounding the employment site.
Developers Gleeson and Portfolio Holdings say the 2,000 jobs to be created by the scheme, called The Hub, will include office, logistics support, driving and warehouse work.
Scott Chamberlin, managing director of Hampshire-based Gleeson Strategic Land, said there were “significant and immediate” requirements for new commercial space, particularly larger distribution warehouses of up to 1million sq ft.
“Over the last two years the UK has seen an increase in direct investment and this combined with an upturn in the UK economy, has created an increasing demand for good quality strategic employment sites,” he said.
“It is critical that land and sites of sufficient size are identified in appropriate, sustainable locations; as those allocated early will be ahead of neighbouring towns and cities and will be able to grasp these opportunities, delivering economic growth and job creation.
“This development can assist in delivering inward investment, construction jobs, upwards of 2,000 new permanent jobs on the development once complete, an estimated £2.5m in annual business rates income.”
The plan also includes public transport and highways improvements, new footpaths and cycleways, sustainable urban drainage systems, new landscaping and green infrastructure provision.
Mr Chamberlin added: “Ultimately this eastern area of Swindon is set to see a significant investment. By providing the opportunity to live and work in the same area, it is not only sustainable but provides a further boost to the local economy as residents re-invest salaries in the local housing, retail and leisure market.”
The agent for the scheme, James Lockhart of Swindon surveyors Whitmarsh Lockhart, said: “This area of Swindon has been identified for growth for the last decade and the submission of this planning application shows the return of confidence in the local market.
“Sites with allocation for such development will undoubtedly be the front runners, attracting a wider spectrum of the potential occupiers currently in the market at the moment.”
However South Marston Parish Council has raised concerns about how the site will work as an employment park.
Vice chair Sylvia Young told the BBC: “I think our problems are not that it's an application on a green field site with no infrastructure – it’s that it doesn’t contribute enough to making it work as an employment park.
“As a standalone application it is not connected well enough in terms of the road infrastructure, walking and cycling to the site, and there are definite difficulties with the capacity of the road to take the HGV traffic despite what the developers are proposing to do.”