WHSmith set to knock down Swindon HQ offices for housing

WHSmith has finally got permission to knock down its Greenbridge headquarters and sell the land for up to 228 houses.

But the high street retail giant says it will retain a base elsewhere in the town.

The approval is for outline planning permission – so details of the layout and design of the houses will have to be submitted and approved later.

The masterplan layout included in the application shows houses arranged around a central green square, with plenty of footpaths into the site from all sides and probable car access from Greenbridge Road.

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

WHSmith said it remains committed to Swindon.

It 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 that the 1960s building was of historic and architectural importance because of its arched roof.

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson and Covingham and Dorcan councilor Dale Heenan both opposed that view – saying turning the office into flats would not suit the area – and neither saw the building as being of architectural merit.

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

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

Swindon Advertiser:

Councillors suggested some of the rooms would be too small for people to live in, they had concerns about 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.

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