SWINDON'S archaeological collection is expected to grow “significantly” in the next five to 10 years as the town expands to the south and east.

The majority of finds in the borough are due to commercial work and to date have included a wide array of objects spanning the centuries.

The growing number of items unearthed at development sites further underscores the need for more storage and exhibition space, with a final funding decision on a new museum and art gallery expected in around two months’ time.

Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, which is the repository for objects found, secured money from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in 2017 for a two-year project covering excavations, collections and the town’s ancient histories.

A report by the Archaeological Advisory Board of the Swindon Development Trust predicted the amount of ‘treasure’ is set to grow.

It reads: “The majority of all archaeology discovered in Swindon and deposited with Swindon Museum and Art Gallery is as a result of commercial excavation, in response to development and building. The archaeology collection is expected to grow significantly in the next 5-10 [years] due to the expansion of the town to the south and east.”

The details emerged as the figurehead leading the bid for a new museum and art gallery said he has a "good feeling" about the final piece in the jigsaw.

Rod Hebden spoke ahead of a decision on April 24 by the HLF on the final £12million needed for the landmark project. Mr Hebden, director of the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust, believes the venue will have a "massive transformative effect" on a town that is "plagued by negative perceptions".

"We have seen HLF since we put out bid in, and they have been really supportive of it as a project, so it will just come down to whether there's enough funding available,” he said.

“We have had really good feedback, the bid's being received really well, they've been really complimentary about the quality of the bid and the project, they have seen the need for it.

"The reality is it's incredibly competitive. There is a very small, limited pot of money available so there'll be a lot of very good projects that miss out.

“We are in a very good position to be one of the successful ones.

"At this point it's out of our hands, we'll have to see what happens."

Mr Hebden has previously described the current museum and art gallery in Old Town as “not fit for the purpose”, with limited space and accessibility.

He said: "It's been seen all over the country, a new cultural facility like this can have a massive transformative effect on a town.

“If you just compare us with the likes of Wakefield, it’s half the population of Swindon and since they built the Hepworth [art gallery] they get a quarter of a million visits every year.

“It brings in huge footfall, huge investment into the town and really changes the perception of a town.

“Swindon’s got a huge amount going for it but it’s still plagued by negative perceptions. Something like a new museum and art gallery when done well and with the quality of collections that Swindon has can really make a splash and transform how people see the place.”