Nationwide Building Society has announced a new partnership with Swindon Borough Council to seek to provide a significant community-led housing project in its home town, including provision for affordable homes.
In an innovative approach highlighting its mutual difference, the Society will redevelop the Oakfield campus site, a five-hectare brownfield space allocated for housing. The scheme follows strong Nationwide member feedback that the Society should support new practical approaches to housing.
The initiative aims to put local people at the heart of the planning and design process; influencing the layout, mix and number of properties on a site which could accommodate more than 200 new homes. The initial consultation, which starts today, could last for up to six months and help determine key aspects of the development, including green spaces and facilities to benefit the wider local community. The project seeks to deliver a long-lasting, high quality, mixed-tenure development, including affordable homes, to support a diverse and thriving community.
Subject to further discussion with Swindon Borough Council and successfully securing planning consent, building is expected to begin in 2019.
Nationwide is committed to working with existing local community initiatives as part of this regeneration project. The development will involve a Nationwide investment in the region of £50 million over a number of years. The initiative is designed to break even through sales and rentals, and any profit will be reinvested in other Nationwide community projects.
Joe Garner, Nationwide’s Chief Executive, said: “Building on our housing heritage, our mutual purpose, and our founding principle that people can achieve more together than they can alone, we aim to show that it’s possible to develop quality homes at fair prices. By challenging existing practice in just a small way here in Swindon and ensuring the views of locals shape our development, we hope to make an innovative contribution to the national housing debate.”
Commenting on the regeneration initiative, Cllr Toby Elliott, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Sustainability, said: “I’m delighted we’ve found a fantastic partner in Nationwide Building Society to help deliver local homes in a new way. The Oakfield campus has been allocated for housing use since 2013 and has been unoccupied since the University closed seven years ago. We look forward to working with Nationwide and local residents as the plans develop.”
The Oakfield project is the latest initiative of Nationwide’s new five-year social investment programme, aimed at helping people ‘find a place fit to call home’, after the Society’s members voted housing as the top issue concerning them.
Separately, under its existing national Community Funding programme, Nationwide expects to invest an additional £20 million by 2022 to help communities across the country tackle their housing issues, inviting local members to vote on which projects to support. The programme is being piloted in Northern England, before going nationwide in 2018.
Additionally, to promote the health and development of the private rented sector, and provide views to Government, earlier this year Nationwide assembled an industry-wide Partnership Board, backed by the National Landlords Association (NLA), the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), Shelter, Countrywide and the Nationwide Foundation.
The proposed development at Oakfield is in line with Swindon Borough Council’s vision and priority to “Improve infrastructure and housing to support a growing, low-carbon economy”. It also forms part of the Council’s Pledge 9: “Develop Council-owned brownfield sites at Oakfield, and other sites as they become available, for housing.”
Joe Garner added: “From supporting the world’s first garden city in the early 1900s, to championing the creation of homes for returning servicemen after both World Wars, Nationwide has played an innovative role in helping millions of people secure a home of their own. After all, we are a building society.”