The Priory Vale marketing literature waxed lyrical about the proposed Redhouse Village Centre, but for about 100 residents at a public meeting on 15 March, there is only frustration that it has not been built yet.
Chris Cain, project manager for developers Crest Nicholson, tried to paint a complete picture of what the village centre will eventually look like, but took heavy criticism for allowing a Chinese takeaway and a fish and chip shop into the first phase which opens in September. A hair salon will take a third unit and discussions are taking place on the fourth.
A convenience store will be opened by the Smile chain in June.
Residents said they had bought houses on the basis of the Crest vision of village-style shops and outdoor cafes – as visualised in marketing material, pictured here.
But Mr Cain said judgement should be made when the village centre is complete in three years. He told the audience that Crest is following a detailed design guide agreed by Swindon Council’s planning committee in 2002. He also outlined the problem of letting shopping units when an area is only just filling up and retailers are concerned there will be a market to serve.
He said: "We are currently discussing the pub site with three operators interested in providing a family friendly, food led outlet, built to a high quality. I hope to announce the successful operator soon; it should be open in 18 months.
"We’re in discussion about the church and sites are set aside for a health centre, day nursery and sheltered housing for the elderly.
"There will be two office buildings and three further retail units are planned on a one and a half acre tree lined square opposite the learning campus." (pictured right)
"We aim to create a quality space which will encourage retailers to invest in the area."
He added that two years ago Smile is being encouraged to incorporate a post office within their store.
Coun Owen Lister, commenting on the residents’ complaints that Crest is doing nothing different to other local shopping areas, said that people have to bear in mind that within a mile is the well established North Swindon District Centre offering low prices to shoppers. "Retailers will have to look long and hard as to whether they can get a return on their investment at Redhouse."
Coun Justin Tomlinson said he would be inviting the pub operator to a meeting to present their proposals and listen to residents’ requests.
Mr Cain agreed to return to another meeting in the Autumn to discuss the next phase of the village development. Residents who have moved close to the village centre expressed anger at the bright blue rendering used on the upper floors of the apartment blocks over the first phase of shops. (as illustrated in Priory Vale marketing material, right).
Earlier on in the evening Swindon Council waste management staff discussed the introduction of weekly recycling collections and fortnightly wheelie bin emptying this summer. Environment director Steve Harcourt said experience elsewhere did not support residents’ concerns that a fortnightly bin collection pose a health hazard. "The council is under tremendous pressure by government to raise its levelof recycling so as not to incur financial penalties which ultimately will fall on the council taxpayer.
"Our aim is to achieve a 50 per cent recycling rate by 2010. To achieve this residents will have to change their approach to waste and recycling."
He added that the council already comes down hard on fly tippers and that a team of waste and recycling ambassadors will talk to householders about how they can recycle more.