At a meeting of the Business West ‘Swindon and Wiltshire Initiative Property Group’ last week, it was interesting to hear from representatives of Swindon Borough Council about the ongoing programme for the regeneration of Swindon town centre.
With the Faringdon Road and Carriage Works (Phase 1) schemes having been completed and seeing encouraging signs of occupancy, and the North Star leisure scheme receiving planning permission, the Council is now focussing upon the delivery of other committed town centre regeneration schemes including Kimmerfields. To assist, the Council is leading a bid to the Future High Streets Fund, to supplement the funding it has already received from the LEP for town centre regeneration. The Council has also restated its intention to deliver the Fleming Way bus boulevard by no later than 2023.
During the coming months, the Council has also indicated that it will seek to refresh its current Town Centre Masterplan. The emphasis of this work will be on ‘key deliverables’ within the Council’s control but efforts will also be made to encourage third parties who can bring forward redevelopment on their own land. As part of this refresh, the Council will take into account the Delivery Plan that was produced by Forward Swindon (which has been subsumed into the Council).
The recent submission of an application by Zurich for a 11,449 sqm office building at Kimmerfields might also generate interest from other employers to locate in the town centre. However, whereas Zurich has indicated that it could rely on the availability of public car parks for use by its staff, local agents have expressed concerns about the Council’s current parking standards, restricting on-site car parking. This could discourage speculative office developments.
In moving forward with town centre regeneration, we also hope that the Council and its partners will receive further support from the construction industry in order to deliver the residential element of Kimmerfields, a scheme that our planners and masterplanners have advised on, and add impetus to this previously-stalled regeneration project.
There are encouraging signs that the Council is making positive steps forward with the regeneration of Swindon town centre. Important contributions can be made to the delivery of Local Plan 2026’s sustainable development policy requirements for the central area. However, the delivery of the Council’s target of 90,000sqm of new office floorspace in the central area by 2026 represents a challenging target in the current (and uncertain) economic climate. There is a greater chance of delivering the Council’s target of delivering around 1,000 additional homes in the town centre during the Plan period, especially if the residential element of the Kimmerfields scheme can be started soon.
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Town Planning, Regeneration, Retail, Leisure