There are many things that make Swindon such a happy place to live.

One of these, perhaps the most significant, is the sense of community and collective identity that spans across the town like a web.

This quality is personified in the construction of the New Eastern Villages, a large housing development to the east of the A419.

Here, we are not just building houses but sustainable communities, ones that will have as much a stake in the future prosperity of Swindon as the rest of the town. In many ways, the NEV is the next big chapter in Swindon’s exciting story.

In short, the NEV is one of the largest greenfield developments in the country.

Once completed, the nine villages will comprise around 8,000 new homes, new schools, employment spaces and numerous community facilities, and it's our job at the council to ensure it is brought forward in a coordinated way.

This week, I am thrilled to say, we have reached a small milestone in how we communicate this development to people who live in the borough.

Yesterday, a new e-newsletter was officially launched to keep residents up to date with everything that’s happening with the NEV, and I would fully encourage as many people as possible to sign up to what I’m sure will be a very useful resource indeed.

The newsletter, which will land in recipients’ inboxes every month, will provide key planning updates that relate to the wider NEV development and residents will have the chance to submit questions which will then be answered in the following edition.

In order to ensure that proper infrastructure is in place to support these new communities, vital road improvement works must first be undertaken.

With this in mind, the newsletter will feature updates on the key highways schemes as they progress.

The first major improvement project, at the White Hart roundabout, has already started and drivers will be able to see work taking place on the carriageway in the spring.

Upgrades at Gablecross roundabout, Nythe Road junction and Piccadilly roundabout will start in late spring or early summer and work to build a new road – the Southern Connector Road, which will link the NEV with Commonhead roundabout – will start at the back end of the year.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my cabinet member for strategic planning, councillor Gary Sumner for his hard work and commitment to this venture.

It is, I’m sure you’ll agree, a thoroughly exciting time in our town’s rich history, and the opportunity to welcome new people, more investment and job opportunities to our thriving community should not be missed.

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