THE Wichelstowe development was given the seal of approval by the housing minister who visited the site yesterday.

In the next few years, 4,500 houses will be built on the site which Kris Hopkins MP said is a good example of how local government can make the best use of the land.

Tomorrow sees the next stage of the project completed with the official opening of a new Waitrose supermarket.

The minister said: “The key thing is the fact that the council has gone through difficult times but is now in a position to deliver this amazing project.

“They have secured a school, the shops and some high quality housing. I have seen what has already been built and I am very optimistic this will bring a lot to an upward moving town.

“I have already spoken with regional development officers and given its location and proximity to the motorway it is ideally located for people to set up home.”

Mr Hopkins said Wichelstowe was an example of the Govern-ment’s policy towards localism. Later this month, the public hearing of the Local Plan will begin which, if approved, will set where houses in the town can be built.

He said: “The Government trusts local authorities to put together plans to grow their town and from what we have here it is possible to see Swindon is going places.

“We do not tell councils how many homes they have to build but rather let them decide on what is best for their town.

“It is about giving local people a chance to have a say in where they live and hopefully Swindon will be successful in the coming weeks.”

Earlier this year the Wichel-stowe Masterplan was altered to change the road layout, which has now meant serious talks with potential developers have started. It is expected the decision on who will develop the site will be decided by the end of the year.

Deputy council leader Brian Mattock (Con, Old Town) said: “It is fabulous that we have been able to attract Waitrose to Swindon.

“This is something we have been trying for to do for some time.

“It is good to see progress being made on the Wichelstowe project and we are now in talks with developers. “We are seeking to provide high quality homes to accommodate people who have so far been moving out of the town because we didn’t have large enough houses.”

The opening of Waitrose will take place at 8am tomorrow.