PLANS to demolish WHSmith’s Swindon headquarters and have 228 homes built on the site have been strongly criticised.

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, accidents in the Greenbridge area are already high.

Councillors suggested that 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 planning committee recommended that the outline plans be refused, and asked for developers to consider increasing the amount of dwellings that have the minimum standard room sizes.

The planning application will next be discussed by Swindon Borough Council’s planning committee, which could agree with the parish’s objections or override them and approve the proposal.

The outline plans submitted in October suggest knocking down the distribution warehouse and offices of WHSmith to build up to 228 residential dwellings and associated works on the land along with an access point to the new homes from Greenbridge Road.

If approved, a developer would then be found to take on the construction of the new housing and submit a more detailed application which includes more information about the layout, scale, landscaping and appearance of the development.

Both parish and borough councils would discuss this application before deciding whether or not to give the green light for demolition of the WHSmith HQ to begin.

The retailer hopes to move out of its existing offices, sell the land to a housing developer and stay in Swindon at another site which is yet to be determined.

According to a planning statement for the 228-home application, the company wants to move because its current base “requires significant capital investment to keep running but, even with further investment, remains inefficient for modern-day logistics operations”.

So far, 134 new houses from Keepmoat Homes as well as a day nursery are already set to go up on land right next door which WHSmith vacated in 2019.