STUDIES costing £250,000 will aim to help maximise the potential of the Honda site once it becomes vacant next year.

The Japanese car manufacturer – which will leave Swindon midway through 2021 – uses just 50 per cent of the land in South Marston.

Its size and transport links are seen as key to finding a company to fill the significant void.

The Swindon Borough Local Plan supports further development of the site but challenges still need to be overcome in order to create the best offer for potential investors.

But major national employment areas similar as this have in the past faced issues when attempts have been made to repurpose them.

Issues include uncertainty around its impact on the local and strategic roads network.

In a bid to remove barriers to finding new tenants, the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership has announced the £170,000 funding of an initial study.

This study, which will be prepared in collaboration with Highways England, will identify how the roads in the area can be enhanced to support up to 8,000 jobs – twice as many as the number offered by Honda at its peak.

SWLEP CEO Paddy Bradley said: “We are keen to support Honda in its aim to sell the site to enable a new future use as part of its Swindon legacy.

“We can make a tangible contribution to that process by funding two studies, the output of which will be important information for potential buyers of the site.

“The potential intensification of employment and land use on the site means we need to ensure the risk to transport infrastructure and capacity is mitigated at the earliest opportunity.

“We are also pleased to announce the study into renewable energy options for the site which are commercially viable and support our own ambitions for clean economic growth in line with our emerging Local Industrial Strategy.”

A further £80,000 will be made available for a separate study into the potential energy requirements – looking at options for supply in terms of renewable energy both through the grid connection and from the possibility of on-site generation.