THE new owners of the Honda plant site revealed their plans for the future as the borough's council and North Swindon MP welcomed the sale.

Panattoni development director James Watson said: “Panattoni is committing to invest over £700 million into the site to attract new employers and provide for existing businesses looking to expand in Swindon.

“We will be working very closely with Honda and Swindon Borough Council, along with the community and its representatives to regenerate the site.”

Managing director of the company’s UK operations Matthew Byrom said: “The acquisition of the 370-acre Honda facility demonstrates our capabilities to work at scale.

“The redevelopment of this strategic employment site will deliver thousands of new opportunities in roles which underpin the operation of the local and regional economy.”

Swindon Borough Council chief executive Susie Kemp said: “The new opportunities outlined by Panattoni will be a major step in Swindon’s rejuvenation following Honda’s exit.

“Their investment offers a significant boost to the local economy and we are excited by the prospect of this redevelopment creating thousands of jobs for Swindon and the surrounding area.

“We already have a strong working relationship with Panattoni following their recent development of the adjacent site, Symmetry Park, and look forward to working with them over the next year.

“We understand that Honda’s key aim was to identify a responsible new owner and I believe today’s announcement demonstrates that.”

As part of its continued efforts to leave a positive legacy in the local community, Honda will assess opportunities for small sections at the edge of the site that are not required for Panattoni’s development to be utilised by the neighbouring communities.

Panattoni will now commence all necessary planning work with Swindon Borough Council, with support from Honda.

Council leader David Renard said: “I am delighted with the news that the Honda site has been sold and we will be working with the new owners to redvelop it and create new jobs as soon as possible.

"Swindon is still a great place to do business."

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson said: “Absolutely fantastic news for Swindon re: Honda site being sold, with £700m investment secured.

"The Honda Taskforce and, crucially, SBC demonstrated we are pro-development, key to securing our future employment opportunities. Proud and crucial day for Swindon.”

Business West managing director Phil Smith said: “This brings us to the next stage in the formal end of an era for Honda’s involvement in Swindon but opens up a new chapter for the town.

"The past two years since the first announcement of closure in February 2019 have been a period of considerable uncertainty for both workers and Swindon itself, so this is good news and puts an end to much speculation and concern that the site would lie empty.

“We are very glad that the site will be retained for employment use and it appears that the number of jobs created will be equal or greater than currently employed by Honda. It is also encouraging that the turnaround into its new use will be quick. It will be a boost for economic recovery in the region over the next two years.

“There will be some disappointment in the region that an advanced manufacturer was not secured to take over the site, but the market for logistics is extremely buoyant and wider uncertainty in many global manufacturing sectors may have tempered wider interest.

"Ultimately, a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.

"This announcement clearly reflects a broader need for larger strategic employment sites to provide a range of investment opportunities beyond the logistics sector.

"Our region currently has a dearth of these available and needs to do more in ensuring sites are available within our local planning system to cope with both strong demands for logistics operators alongside more traditional manufacturing employers if we are to fully capitalise on global investment interest.

“Despite this good news, focus needs to remain to ensure new job opportunities are available for Honda associates and the impacted parts of Honda's supply chain.

"This announcement means this objective will become much easier. Business West will continue to work to ensure employment remains high in Swindon and surrounding areas."

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