The Honda site in South Marston will continue to be zoned for employment, and not housing even after the Japanese car manufacturer leaves in 2021.

Though the company owns the land, a former airfield, and can sell it to whoever it wants, Swindon Borough Council’s planning committee has approved a policy that will see it designated as a high-quality employment site.

Introducing the policy, the council’s chief planning officer, Richard Bell said: “This is a core employment site. It’s a unique employment site, and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

“This policy gives the council a much clearer and stronger position in any future negotiations over the site.”

The policy means that the 152-hectare site will be designated as a high-quality site for industry in the borough council’s local plan.

It could still be bought by housing developers, but planning permission for houses would be much harder to obtain.

The policy was approved by members of the committee unanimously.