Willmott Dixon has been appointed by Swindon Borough Council for the £18.5m contract to deliver phase 1B of the Queens Drive housing development, creating more than 100 homes.  

Procured using the Scape framework, it will see Willmott Dixon demolish four derelict residential tower blocks to make way for 68 new apartments and 34 houses in the latest part of Queens Drive’s redevelopment, with Willmott Dixon already on-site delivering phase 1A, a £11.5m contract to create 15 houses and 32 apartments. 

The development will act as a gateway to Swindon town centre, with the new homes carefully designed to pay homage to Swindon’s famous heritage as a rail industry powerhouse.  The apartments will be carefully constructed using the same grid formation of the site’s former engine sheds, which used to house, repair and maintain trains. 

Councillor Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “This development delivers much needed, affordable housing in Swindon through the Council’s biggest regeneration scheme to date. It’s great to see work about to start on the next stage to create modern, efficient and well-developed homes for the future. 

“The new homes have been designed to reflect Swindon’s unique heritage and efforts have been made to incorporate the town’s railway history into the designs. The prominent gables of the apartments, for example, are based on the widths of the former engine sheds used to house, repair and maintain trains, whilst the building mass ensures dual aspect living so that they will be light and airy to live in once built.  

“Along with the housing, we’ve taken steps to ensure that the homes are as climate friendly as possible by using PV cells and triple glazing, as well as taking steps to ensure the local wildlife continues to thrive with the help of new bat boxes. I understand the importance of investing in our local communities and building good quality, affordable housing in Swindon is a top priority for this Council.”  

Richard Poulter, managing director for Willmott Dixon’s Central South region, said: “We are delighted to be appointed to the next phase of Queens Drive, following our commencement of Phase 1A in June 2020.  The project will provide much needed affordable housing within the town as well as providing a legacy to the proud railway heritage the town is renowned for. 

“The requirement for climate ready housing from Swindon Borough Council is welcomed and enables us to build on our own environmental objectives.  Through our 2030 ‘Now or Never’ sustainability strategy, we have committed to ensure the buildings we deliver will be future-climate ready and optimise the health and wellbeing of the people living and working in them.” 

Mark Robinson, group chief executive, SCAPE, said: “Affordable housing is vital for our local communities to thrive. The collaborative relationship between Swindon Borough Council and Willmott Dixon to carefully design the houses will ensure that Swindon’s rich railway heritage is secured for future generations. 

“We’re proud to be able to accelerate the Queens Drive housing development through our framework to provide 100 new affordable homes and support Swindon’s regeneration journey.”  

The Queens Drive regeneration project is funded from Homes England Grant, the Council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA), and borrowing offset against the rent income generated by the homes.   The project is example of Willmott Dixon delivering important housing for councils across England and Wales.  Earlier this year, the business handed over 133 dwellings at Aston Rise to Bristol City Council, with 40% of homes available for social rent. The project is playing a key role in the city’s ‘homes for heroes’ plan.