Plans to tear down WHSmith HQ in Swindon to make way for new homes

There are plans for 228 new homes to be built on the WHSmith site Credit: Google

The WHSmith headquarters in Swindon could be knocked down to make way for hundreds of new houses.

The retail giant has been granted permission to knock down its Greenbridge headquarters and sell the land for the development of up to 228 houses.

The company says it still intends to keep its HQ in the town.

The estate will join up to the development of 134 houses already being built smaller part of the site which previously sold to housing company Keepmoat.

While approval has been granted for outline planning permission, the details of the layout and design of the houses are yet to be decided.

WHSmiths said: “The sale of the site with a planning permission is considered to be the optimal strategy to enable the relocation of operations and retaining jobs, with the intention to remain in Swindon.”

When the plan was first put forward, architectural group The Twentieth Century Society tried to prevent the demolition of the office and warehouse building by having it listed.

The society argued the 1960s building was of historic and architectural importance because of its arched roof.

Plans for new homes at site of Swindon WHSmith Credit: WHSmiths

But MP Justin Tomlinson and Covingham and Dorcan councillor Dale Heenan both opposed that view saying turning the office into flats would not suit the area. Neither saw the building as being of architectural merit.

Stratton St Margaret Parish Council objected to the outline planning application and argued the area was not suitable for a housing estate.

The list of reasons against the proposal included fears it would add to the traffic congestion on Dorcan Way, particularly as, it was argued, accidents in the Greenbridge area are already high.

Councillors suggested some of the rooms would be too small for people to live in. They had concerns over adequate insulation to counter high noise levels from passing lorries, and thought the single entrance in and out of the site could potentially cause a bottleneck for any emergency vehicles that are called to the properties.

The borough council’s planning department said the creation of what it called “much-needed housing” justified losing a key employment site and heritage asset.

Credit: Aled Thomas, Local Democracy Reporting Service.