A SHORTLIST of five private sector developers who wish to be partners with Swindon Council for the next major phase of the 4,500 home Wichelstowe project has been drawn up.

The five companies have been chosen from an original set of nine who responded at the end of January to the council’s invitation to bid.

All have passed critical evaluation criteria relating to their financial standing, and experience and capability in delivering strategic developments. It is expected that the preferred bidder will be selected in September 2014.

The next phase of the Wichelstowe project will see the remaining 75 per cent of the land, which is owned by Swindon Council and comprises Middle and West Wichel, developed with a maximum of 3,700 homes.

Approximately 650 homes have already been completed and occupied on the first phase, East Wichel, and a new Waitrose supermarket, which forms part of the planned District Centre, will open within the next two months.

Coun Mike Bawden, Cabinet member for Strategic Projects and Transformation, said: “Identifying the developer shortlist is a crucial step in the project, and the level of interest we have had from some very major private sector companies is proof of the potential and promise of the whole Wichelstowe development.

“We are on track in terms of timescales and I am pleased that all parties represented on the council are fully behind our efforts, through the cross-party project group which is collaborating to oversee the project.”

Coun Des Moffatt, the Labour group spokesman for Resources, said: “I am content we are on the right track at last to deliver the housing crucial for Swindon’s resumed economic development following the banking crash of 2008.”

Coun Stan Pajak, the Leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat Group, said: “This is the latest in a number of important steps towards delivering a high quality and desirable place to live, and which sets the benchmark for future development in the Borough.”

The vision for Wichelstowe is to create a neighbourhood that is attractive to all generations and contributes to wider economic growth. The project is building momentum again after stalling in 2008 following the financial crisis, which led to a collapse in land values and developer confidence