Another 2,500 houses on the edge of Swindon have moved a step closer.

Developer Countryside and housing association Sovereign Housing have bought the 365-acre Lotmead site which has been earmarked for the houses as part of the New Eastern Villages expansion.

But the popular pick your own fruit farm is not part of the deal – and the owners stress it will continue in business and will open this weekend for people looking for Christmas trees.

The site – just to the east of the Wanborough Road south of Covingham – already had outline planning permission for the homes and two primary schools, local centres, nurseries, retail and commercial space.

The neighbourhoods will also feature children’s play area of play areas, a sports hub and pavilion, garden allotments and plenty of open green space.
Countryside and Sovereign Housing bought the land from land promoter Ainscough Strategic Land.

The building company’s chief executive Iain McPherson said: “This is a landmark deal for us as we continue our rapid growth in the South West and we are delighted to be working in a strategic joint-venture partnership with Sovereign on delivering a distinctive, diverse and sustainable community.

The two companies say they have committed to Swindon Borough Council to build 750 of the new houses and flats as affordable homes – which will be let at 80 per cent of market rate. 

Tom Titherington, chief investment and development officer at Sovereign Housing Association, said: “The development in Lotmead fits perfectly with our strategy ofworking with other like-minded developers to create delightful new places where we know that the properties, we provide to our customers will be fit for the future. This a growing part of the country and an area of high demand for all forms of housing.” 

Work is expected to start in a year’s time.

Lotmead Farm, which runs a popular pick your own fruit business on the edge of the new housing site, will not be affected by the sale.

A spokesman said: “The Pick Your Own isn’t going and will be staying for what we hope will be many, many more years to come. We’ll be opening from this weekend, Saturday, November 27, for Christmas trees.

"This also doesn’t affect the day to day running of the Lotmead Business Village.”