COUNCIL chiefs say they are delighted WH Smith is looking to stay in Swindon and will work with the company to find it a new headquarters.

It has been revealed the retail chain is looking to move away from its current headquarters on Greenbridge Road.

The offices have been described as no longer fit for purpose and in a state of disrepair.

A planning application has been submitted to build 134 homes on the site as WH Smith bosses look for a new headquarters.

However, talks have been taking place with Swindon Borough Council for some months over finding a new home in the town so jobs from the area will not be lost.

Councillor Garry Perkins (Con, Haydon Wick), the cabinet member for the economy, said: “It is great news for the town they are staying in Swindon.

“Over the past few years WH Smith has been re-evaluating its business needs in the light of more people using online.

“We, and Forward Swindon, have been talking to them for about 18 months about their plans and how we can help them.

“It is good sign they have chosen to stay in Swindon.”

As it stands, only the head office, where around 450 people work, will move and the adjacent warehouse will remain.

It is not known at this stage exactly where WH Smith are looking to move to but there is soon to be a large amount of available commercial space at the Eastern Villages Development, close to the existing headquarters.

“I know they are looking at existing and new buildings,” said Coun Perkins.

“We will do what we can to help them find a suitable site. I think they might try to go for a new building so they can design it to their specific needs.

“Swindon has a long and positive relationship with Smiths and we are looking forward to that continuing.”

WH Smith has confirmed it is looking to go ahead with a move but it will be dependent on whether the planning application is successful.

As well as the homes, which will be apartments, the application also has provision for a nursery and intergenerational care accommodation for people over 50.

A spokesman for WH Smith said: “We can confirm that we are currently in discussion with Swindon Borough Council regarding the possibility of relocating our Head Office to a building that is more suitable for our needs.

“If our application to the council is successful we are committed to staying within Swindon. Due to the very early stage of our discussions we are unable to comment any further.”