It is not only the UK’s biggest building society but the world’s largest mutual, too, with around 15 million members.
Now the Nationwide Building Society is returning to its roots to build homes for the first time in a century.
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£50m project in Swindon
In their early days, Britain’s building societies not only loaned money to those buying a home but also built properties for sale. The Nationwide helped to build one of the earliest garden cities at Letchworth in Hertfordshire.
Its current ambitions are slightly lower, but its new project will mean 239 new homes constructed as part of a new neighbourhood development in Swindon, Wiltshire, where the mutual is based.
And because the scheme is not for profit, the properties will be more affordable and cheaper than those built by the big developers.
Residents consulted on design
The project has been planned with the input of residents in the town who were asked to identify the factors that matter most when it comes to buying a home.
They put good parking and bigger garages at the top of the list, which is reflected in the design of the houses. Each property will be bigger than many new-builds, while more communal gardens are planned.
Nick Spittal, the Nationwide’s general manager, told the Guardian: “Profit is not our driving factor. The value in this project will be in replicating it across the country.
“The lovely thing about this is that we’re just trying to do the right thing, not just follow what developers have done before.”
Aiming for positive impact
Tanya Joseph, head of communications at Nationwide, added: “Housing is what Nationwide is about, and rather than lecture others and moan, we have begun looking at ways in which we could have a positive impact.
“Swindon is our home town and a good place to start.”
The prices for the properties have not yet been set but are likely to start from £200,000 with Nationwide underwriting the £50 million total cost of the project.