WAITROSE is set to sign a multi-million pound deal to deliver the planned Wichelstowe District Centre and kick-start the next phase of home-building.

The 3.5-hectare district centre site, in what will be Middle Wichel, is at fields off Peglars Way and Foxham Way.

But there is outline permission for the site, which includes a convenience store of up to 2,500 square metres net floor space and a car park with 250 spaces.

Swindon Council is to enter into an agreement, subject to planning consent and a sale price being established, to sell the site to a major supermarket, known by the Adver to be Waitrose, which would then develop the canal-front district centre, with its shop as the anchor store.

The authority would use the cash to progress infrastructure works, including associated ecological clearance works, which will help enable the early delivery of the supermarket, unlock immediate housing development for the first 200 homes in Middle Wichel and bring forward the district centre.

Coun Dale Heenan, cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, said he hoped the deal would be completed by the end of the month.

The name of the chain would then be announced, and subject to planning approval, work could begin in the summer, with the aim of the store opening by the end of the year.

He said that there were some supermarket chains conspicuous by their absence in Swindon and the deal would mean Swindon-based shoppers of the chain would not have to travel to branches in surrounding towns. The nearest Waitrose stores are in Marlborough and Cirencester.

He said the sale was also key to deliver the key phase of Wichelstowe, which overall has outline planning consent for between 3,800 and 4,500 homes, 12.6 hectares of employment or commercial uses and other retail, mixed use and community uses.

“The idea is that it’s the council’s land that we will sell to the supermarket, so it’s a capital receipt and it’s several million pounds,” he said. “That will then be used to improve the roads and access to other parts of Wichelstowe so we can start building out another 200 houses.

“This deal is the lynch-pin to enable the next phase of Wichelstowe. At the end of the day, it always comes down to money and this is a significant deal. And it makes it more attractive to live in Wichelstowe, but no doubt residents across the town will be using this district centre.”

Coun Garry Perkins, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “The fact the supermarket and the district centre is going forward and there’s investment going into that proves we’re on the right track, even though it has been a little while coming.

“It’s for the whole of Swindon, it’s not just for Wichelstowe. And they obviously see the future of Swindon and they’re willing to invest in it. With the development of Swindon and Muse [town centre plan] and everything else, they can see their customers will be in Swindon.”