The first step towards the £700m redevelopment of the Honda site – which will see the car-making firm depart forever at the end of July – has been taken.

The site’s new owner development company Panattoni has lodged a request for environmental impact assessment scoping opinion on plans to build new factories and warehouses there.

And bosses at Panattoni, which bought the South Marston plant earlier this year, have said the application is a huge vote of confidence in Swindon and its workforce.

Such an application is a precursor to a fully detailed application and asks council planners and consultees whether it needs to provide a full environmental impact assessment as part of a planning application. But it does include some details of Panattoni’s plans.

The company is looking at building premises for industrial and warehousing and logistics, totalling 672,000sq m.

That amount dwarfs the huge warehouse and delivery centre the company is building for Amazon at Symmetry Park further south which is 58,000sq m.

The company says development includes access roads, parking, drainage and open space.

It adds: “It is anticipated that both the construction and operational workforce would primarily be drawn from the local labour market, thereby placing no additional demand or effect on the local housing market or social infrastructure, or effects would be so small as to be insignificant.

“There will be an employment Increase in short-term construction employment and long-term operational employment.”

And it expects an increase in spending in businesses nearby the plant by both workers who build the new facilities and those who work in them when operational.

James Watson, the development director of Panattoni said: “This is the first step and nothing more than us doing what we said we would do, which is to redevelop the site.”

But Mr Watson said, the money the company is spending is enormous: “The £700m speculative investment we are making in the site is the largest in the company’s history and we’re a big developer in the US and in Europe.

“We are sorry for those people who are losing their jobs with Honda’s departure, and we wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but this is a huge vote of confidence in both the workforce of Swindon and its location, and this is the first step in our promise to redevelop and find a new uses for the site.”

The cabinet member responsible for strategic infrastructure transport and planning at Swindon Borough Council Gary Sumner was delighted to see the screening application lodged.

He said: “The site has been underused, and we want to see it used more intensively and it is great to see this coming forward as part of its redevelopment and finding new uses for it.

"I believe Panattoni plans to make the site a little more open as well, so people can walk in and it’s less fenced off.

“This application is 200 per cent welcome and it matches our research, which always said if the site is used more fully there would be thousands more jobs created there than will be lost by Honda closing.”

The last day of Honda’s operations at the former airfield site is Friday July 30.

Once planners tell Panattoni whether it must provide an EIA or not, a full application for the new facilities in site will have to be made.

Panattoni is well knows as a speculative developer of industrial warehousing facilities – building a site then finding a company to use it. The plans for the warehouse at Symmetry Park began in such a fashion until Amazon agreed to take the whole of the site and it was designed specifically for the internet giant.