- Dale Heenan
- On March 2, 2011
Cllr Dale Heenan “As Chairman of the Planning Committee for three years, I saw many applications for regeneration projects in the town centre be submmited by developers. The good ones were approved, and I am very pleased to see that the developers are finally making progress. Times are tough and towns across the Country have lost all of their regeneration projects, but Swindon has weathered the storms.
It has taken far far too long for some plans like Regent Circus to be demolished to happen, and local residents will cheer when this eyesore comes down and work starts on site. ”
Swindon Advertiser article
A WIDE-RANGING revamp of the town centre could herald a renaissance for Swindon, it is claimed.
As reported throughout January and February, a string of big schemes are set to get underway in the town from the end of March.
In yesterday’s Adver, it was revealed the council will bankroll a £1.75m Regeneration of the area outside the railway station.
Work is set to begin in April and it is hoped this will coincide with the demolition of the decaying old college site at Regent Circus, and the start of the multi-layered Union Square development.
Coun Garry Perkins (Con, Shaw and Nine Elms), the Tory cabinet’s head of economics, said: “You’re looking at not short of half a billion pounds. Officers have done particularly well to hold this all together in the downturn.
“A lot of councils sat back and said: ‘We’ll wait until the recession finishes and ride it out.’ “But in Swindon it’s now all coming to fruition. This year should see a lot of things happening.
“The railway forecourt – that’s definitely going ahead. Regent Circus, will go ahead, the developer has planning permission.
“And Union Square will apply for outline planning permission for all phases in April. There’s really no excuse for any of these three not happening before summer.”
And, in a rare display of political unity, the two opposition parties are also enthusiastic about the schemes coming together.
Lib Dem leader Coun Stan Pajak (Eastcott) said: “It’s just a happy coincidence. A lot of these schemes were scheduled to go ahead earlier, but it’s all bubbling away now.
“What Swindon needs is a renaissance. It’s fallen behind, and what we need now is for that to happen.
“It’s like a rocket – we need to light the touch paper.”
Labour leader Coun Derique Montaut (Central) said: “Regeneration at long last is starting to take off. We’ve fallen behind a number of other authorities.
“We need to take some sense of pride in what our town looks and feels like. After many years of seeing many shops vacant and boarded up, the experience of it all coming together has to be welcomed.”
But he added that he still had reservations about how the work on Whale Bridge Roundabout was going to hit traffic, and said Swindon’s regeneration needed to be linked to with its railways heritage and more than just shops if it was to work.
Property expert James Gregory, a partner at Swindon consultants Alder King said Hopefully, all these schemes will spur further investmentin the town.
He has helped plan a seven-storey building next to Jurys Inn.
It was originally set to be flats, but was given permission in October to change into a 95,000sq ft office building.
A big business occupier needs to sign up before building work can begin, but Mr Gregory said all the upcoming developments were helping.
He said: “Regent Circus, it’s so nearly there.
“They’ve been working on it for so many years.
“You can really see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“That, all together, will make a big difference to confidence in the town.
“Hopefully this’ll be the catalyst to further development.”