BUILDING on Swindon's Front Garden has taken another step forward.

Work on the first part of the giant Wichelstowe development has been ongoing for several months.

And in the past few weeks yellow signs have gone up around the edge of Swindon, directing heavy goods lorries to the site.

Now Swindon Council has announced that it has drawn up a shortlist of four firms who could be chosen to develop the remaining West Wichel and Middle Wichel parts of the site.

Which means it is now down to the four companies to dazzle the council with their proposals for the area.

Councillor Peter Greenhalgh, pictured, Swindon Council's cabinet member for planning, highways and transport, said: "We are determined to make Wichelstowe one of the most sustainable developments in the UK.

"We have set the bar high, far beyond what is required by Government legislation, and it is very encouraging that we have had such a positive response to our challenge from major developers.

"It's also important to us that high quality design and architecture are a fundamental part of the Wichelstowe project."

Whoever wins the final development job, which Swindon Council says is part of the estimated £1bn development of the Front Garden, will face a huge task.

The winning firm will work with the council and Taylor Wimpey to develop 460 acres of land.

When complete that land will include 3,500 new homes, three village centres, office space, schools and a wide range of public elements, such as doctors' surgeries and leisure facilities.

The council is also insisting the development scheme is so green it reduces emissions of greenhouse gases.

The companies in the running for the project include a consortium made up of Orion Land and Leisure, Skanska and LXB3.

This company developed the Cardiff International Sports Village, one of Wales' biggest regeneration projects.

Also in the running is St Modwen. It is working on the redevelopment of part of Wembley as well as the regeneration of 468 acres at the former MG Rover site in Longbridge.

Bloor Homes is also on the list.

It has a portfolio of properties across the UK and builds about 2,000 homes each year.

The final firm on the list is French company Vinci.

It operates in 75 countries and made its bid with the Grainger Trust, the developer behind the redevelopment of London's Victoria bus station.

James Coker of Knight Frank, which is marketing the site for Swindon Council, said: "Wichelstowe is an important scheme for Swindon both because of its sheer size and the scale of its vision. The quality of developers who expressed an interest shows just how much this scheme has captured the imagination of the construction world, as the shortlist contains names that are renowned in residential development and regeneration.

The proposed development partners have an impressive portfolio of experience in designing schemes that combine sustainability with innovation, and Swindon Council looks forward to seeing the way in which the bidders interpret the challenge put to them."

It is expected that the council will decide on a developer by the end of July - and complete the deal to do the job by November.