Site plan showing Lotmead Farm, Swindon

Countryside and Sovereign joint-venture partnership

Countryside, the UK’s leading mixed-tenure developer and Sovereign Housing Association, a leading housing provider in southern England, have exchanged contracts with Ainscough Strategic Land in the acquisition of Lotmead Farm, a 365-acre site in Swindon.

Outline planning permission for the delivery of an up to 2,500-home scheme across distinctive character areas creating individually designed neighbourhoods has already been secured by promoter Ainscough Strategic Land. 30% of the scheme will be genuinely affordable through the S106 commitment together with additional units which will be delivered specifically for Sovereign. Up to 400 homes will be delivered for private rented accommodation.

Situated within the Swindon New Eastern Villages urban extension (NEV) development area, Lotmead Farm will focus on strong place making and will include large areas of open space together with the creation of two primary schools, local centres, nurseries, retail and commercial space. The neighbourhoods will also feature 1.76ha of play areas, a sports hub and pavilion, 1.76ha allotments and 62.29ha green space.

Avison Young oversaw the sale of the land while the promoters were Ainscough Strategic Land who secured the outline planning permission.

Iain McPherson, Group Chief Executive, Countryside, commented: “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. 

“At Countryside, we are proud of our track-record in delivering sensitively designed mixed-tenure developments that reflect our commitment to sustainability. It has been a pleasure to work in partnership with Sovereign who similarly put place-making and the environment at the centre of their approach. Together we are creating a fantastic new place with an abundance of open space and green infrastructure.

Tom Titherington, Chief Investment and Development Officer at Sovereign Housing Association said: “The development in Lotmead fits perfectly with our strategy of working 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. Here we are able to increase the amount of affordable new homes over and above the section106 by nearly 50% through utilising the Homes England Partnership funds.”

“It has been a pleasure to work with Countryside as we looked together at tenure mix, urban design and specification. This a growing part of the country and an area of high demand for all forms of housing and Swindon Borough Council has been and continue to be supportive of the scheme and I am looking forward to it commencing in Winter 2022.”

Gordon Isgrove, Principal at commercial real estate advisor Avison Young, who led the developer search and has been working with the landowner for the last 18 years, added: “This is a strategically important acquisition by Countryside and Sovereign and a partnership that will deliver a sensitively designed, quality development within an area that already has a strong sense of identity. This is the probably the biggest residential transaction to take place across the UK this year, and certainly the largest in the south west.”

Rachael Ainscough, at Ainscough Strategic Land, commented: “Design and place-making were important legacy considerations for our landowner partners and we are pleased that we have found a developer who has put both at the heart of their proposals.  This project has been about teamwork all along and we’re delighted with the outcome.”