RETAIL giant WH Smith have pledged its commitment to Swindon as the company searches for a new home following the demolition of its Greenbridge HQ.

It comes after recent news that a proposal to turn the site into residential properties has been given the go-ahead by Swindon Borough Council.

Planners intend the site to become home to 134 dwellings, a day nursery/creche and “intergenerational” care accommodation.

The proposals were first submitted more than a year ago when the stationery giant pledged to remain in the town, with the council saying it would support the company to find a more suitable headquarters.

A spokesman for WH Smith said: “We can confirm that we have been granted outline planning permission for part of our Greenbridge site. We remain committed to staying in the Swindon area and we will commence our search for a new location in due course.”

The tower block, which can be seen from various points across the town, will not be demolished as part of the plans, but will border the new development.

Councillor Garry Perkins (Con, Haydon Wick), the cabinet member for the economy, said: “We have had on-going discussions for quite some time with the aim of keeping WH Smith in Swindon.

“It is very good news that they are choosing to stay here as it means people won’t be losing their jobs.”

Coun Perkins stressed that it was not yet know where the company’s new HQ would be, but that he was confident they will find the perfect location.

WH Smith has been based on the corner of Drakes Way and Dorcan Way since the 1960s, with its HQ occupying around 6,500 sq.m of office floorspace. But concerns have been raised over the state of the repair of the building, prompting plans for a relocations, and the planning application for new homes.

The tower block, however, will not be demolished as part of the plans, but border the new development.

WH Smith’s agent has told Swindon Borough Council: “The offices and the wider application site are no longer fit for purpose in order to continue serving the needs of the business going forward.

"This includes the state of the office building itself, which is in a declining state of repair and which does not provide a suitable layout or the standard of infrastructure required for modern business operations.

“As such, the applicant is seeking to relocate its headquarters to a new office building within the borough, which will include the relocation of approximately 450 senior management and consultancy jobs and which will secure the future of WH Smith in Swindon.”