German supermarket operator Aldi and development partner Picton have unveiled plans for their fourth store in the town as well as 70 houses at the empty office complex between Westlea and Shaw.
They are putting a forward a hybrid planning application of the single site – a full application for the store and an outline application for up to 70 homes.
The store would be located next to Mead Way, opposite the Spectrum building – with a new entrance created off Shaw Road, almost opposite the exit from the Shell fuel station. The houses would be reached from Chelmsford Road, the existing entrance to the Westlea campus complex.
The campus, built in the 1980s, pictured below has been largely unused for several years, with the last tenant moving out in 2013. The developers say it is obsolete as it was not built with underfloor cable ducting and is no longer energy efficient. They also maiintain there is no longer a market for large refurbished offices and the buildings are starting to be vandalised.
Residents who attended a presentation on 13 February expressed major concerns about traffic congestion in the area as a result of redevelopment.
Kevin Fisher, chair of Shaw Residents’ Association, lbelieves that the plans must be closely looked as he is concerned that too many houses are being proposed for the site.
He said: “Whilst we agree with the benefits of developing a currently unused brownfield site and welcome the new jobs the store will bring, we are concerned about the loss of business land to yet more housing in West Swindon and the impact this will have on our already over capacity roads.
"It is a well placed site, central to a very large suburban area, which will attract a large number of car drivers. We are particularly concerned about road access to the store and the impact to surrounding areas at peak times should the stores car park overflow.
"To mitigate these concerns – and if more houses must be built – we want to see the proposed number of houses reduced substantially in favour of a store car park with 20 per cent more spaces than Aldi would normally provide for such a facility. We must also see a robust and fit for purpose access road design.”
Caroline Andrews from Sharpe Close, Shaw, said she was uncertain about the store being built in such a busy location. "It will certainly be convenient but the store will attract people from a very wide area and make the roads around us a lot busier."
However Aldi planning consultant Peter Lawson, pictured top, said: "The traffic flow to the supermarket and houses on the site will spread use of the roads throughout the day compared to several hundred office workers getting to and from the site during the rush hours.
"Aldi are proposing 104 car parking spaces in the store planning application which is 20 per cent more than the average for its outlets and in excess of the parking standard set by Swindon Council’s planning policy. The scheme will also contribute £30,000 to the council’s highway’s improvement measures for West Swindon.
"The housing application is for an agreement in principle and the developers who acquire the site will set out their proposals for up to 70 dwellings; it might be less but this is subject to a detailed application in due course."
Jay Cable, Head of Asset Management for Picton Capital, commented: “The market has demonstrated that there simply isn’t the demand in Swindon for the large-scale office accommodation that the Westlea Campus offers.
"We want to bring the site back into use and are proposing a high-quality mixed-use development in its place. I am proud of what we have created and I am looking forward to showing the plans to local people and getting their feedback on what we propose.”