ONE of the biggest names in the Swindon economy is looking to sell its tower block headquarters and warehouse.

But WHSmith says despite plans for up to 228 homes on the land in Greenbridge Road, it wants to stay in the town.

The struggling high street giant has used the site as part of its head office operation since 1967 but says the buildings are no longer fit for purpose.

About 700 people work at the Swindon HQ, although the stationers announced this year it was to cut 150 jobs between there and the London head office.

An application for outline planning permission for up to 228 houses on the site bound by Dorcan Way and Greenbridge Road and Drakes Way has been lodged with Swindon Borough Council.

It says: “The distribution centre is reaching the end of its commercial lifespan. It requires significant capital investment to keep running but, even with further investment, remains inefficient for modern-day logistics operations.

“The company is now exploring the sale of the distribution centre and office tower to facilitate relocating operations to alternative accommodation that is fit for purpose for the foreseeable future.

“It has updated parts of the office tower to accommodate staff relocated from the adjacent former headquarters offices; however, the tower remains unfit for modern office requirements.

“The sale of the site with a planning permission is considered to be the optimal strategy to enable the relocation of operations and retaining jobs, with the intention to remain in Swindon.”

The application for outline permission it does not contain detailed designs but a masterplan layout shows houses arranged around a central green square, with plenty of footpaths into the site from all sides and probable car access from Greenbridge Road.

The estate would join up to the development of 134 houses already planned on a smaller part of the site WHSmith has already sold to housing company Keepmoat.

The application seeks to persuade planners the site would be best suited to housing, pointing out it is close to Greenbridge Retail Park, within walking distance of schools and convenience stores, a short drive to larger supermarkets and leisure facilities, with play and open spaces are all nearby.