The future of the Honda site - and the Oasis

By Barrie Hudson - 24 November 2023


Swindon Borough Council Conservative Group Leader Cllr Gary Sumner writes for Swindon Link.

I was proud to be a key player in the Conservative team that assisted Panattoni in gaining planning consent for the vast former Honda site, which will eventually create an estimated 12,000 jobs. 

This is the most significant employment site in the South of England and will provide space not just for logistics but also manufacturing and office jobs. 

The site will take many years to complete, but to succeed it is critical that employers are encouraged to take advantage of the site before looking at destroying more countryside for employment needs. 

If Panattoni are undermined by alternative employment land being allocated it will take a lot longer to deliver on a site which has all the required infrastructure to succeed. 

Our existing and future ‘Local Plans’ guide where all development should take place and there are already substantial (approved) allocations for tens of thousands of homes at New Eastern Villages, Kingsdown and Wichelstowe which will provide all the required housing for decades. 

Therefore, at the council meeting on 23 November I submitted a motion, seconded by my colleague Cllr Vijay Manro, which asked the Labour administration to prioritise development of brownfield sites, before greenfield. 

We need the equivalent of a ‘greenbelt’ wrapped around our more rural communities (who have already accepted substantial housing allocations), so that they don’t disappear. 

On housing development, it is important to set the tone, and Swindon Borough Council-owned sites such as the former Windmill Hill Primary School that have sat empty for over a decade should be actively promoted for housing (which would be welcomed by Freshbrook residents) before additional bites are taken from farmland around Blunsdon, Highworth, Wanborough and Wroughton. 

Swindon Borough Council has substantial land holdings and empty offices across the town and could set an example whilst also providing much-needed affordable housing if they took a more proactive approach. 

I may be surprised but expect to see Labour reject this sensible & sustainable request. 

Finally, the Oasis. 

I have continued to support getting the leisure facility refurbished and re-opened and the Conservative administration had agreed a deal with £15m coming from the sale of the land around the Oasis. 

Now Labour have agreed a revised deal with only £6m coming back and the council’s own legal advisors saying that their decision would be unlawful. 

At the time of writing, I believe Labour will ignore the advice and face future legal challenges – which may once again delay the re-opening of the Oasis, whilst also leaving the council in a much worse financial position than we had negotiated. 


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