Swindon is fortunate to have a wide range of local employers that have all made significant contributions to the town over the years.

Last week it was a privilege and a pleasure to see Nationwide’s joint announcement with the borough augmenting that trend with a £50m investment in a new housing development.

The agreement between Nationwide and the council will provide over 200 homes on the disused Oakfield School site in Walcot East.

I am particularly happy as this means we will be making good use of another brownfield site and we hope to encourage even more developments like this.

Nationwide, which is also the UK’s largest building society, is seeking to make this development distinctive.

It hopes to achieve this through a commitment to giving local residents a strong voice in the housing mix, the design, the types of tenure and even the total number of homes to be built. This will be achieved by a six-month long consultation period. Ward councillors representing the area and the wards adjacent to the development will also be involved.

Not only is the aim to provide a long-lasting, high quality, mixed-tenure development, including affordable homes, but it is also intended to support a diverse and thriving community.

I would like to offer my special thanks to Councillor Toby Elliott, the Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Sustainability, and his officers for their work in successfully negotiating this deal.

It is an excellent illustration of how this administration is pragmatic and innovative in seeking new partnerships and practical solutions to address the town’s housing needs.

It is also a really positive demonstration of a major local employer making both a solid, long-term business commitment as well as a community one to the town in which it is based.

We are now seeing a wide range of proposals coming through. Some are led entirely by the private sector, such as the existing developments at Tadpole Farm and Commonhead, which we hope will be joined by new flats at the old Tented Market site in the town centre.

Others will involve partnership between the council and the private sector while in a few cases, the council itself will be building new homes for sale or for rent.

The good news is not going to end here. I hope to be writing about further progress on both Wichelstowe and the Carriage Works over the next few weeks.

There may be more early presents for us all.