Land at North Swindon neighbourhood centre allocated for housing, not local facilities
Three public squares, two pubs, two restaurants and cafes, a medical centre, nursery, office units and a church surrounded by a green area, Redhouse Village Centre was going to be a ‘vibrant and distinctive heart’ of Priory Vale, and it was going to be ready in 2007.
Sadly what was described in the original glossy brochure promoting the Priory Vale housing development area* in 2003 does not match the reality. What has transpired is Hairworks Salon, a Tesco convenience store, chip shop, dentist surgery and an estate agent. A unit let to a second estate agent remains empty, and another shop where a pharmacy failed is now a community cafe charity shop run by Uplands School educational trust.
(*Swindon Council’s ward boundaries for political representation, including the Priory Vale Ward, introducted in 2012 bears no relation to the original Haydon III development area called Priory Vale for marketing purposes)
Right, an extract from the 2003 brochure for Priory Vale:
In 2007, Priory Vale will unveil its vibrant and distinctive heart: the Village Centre. Encircled by a collection of charismatic squares, the centre will be home to almost every leisure and lifestyle delight imaginable.
Here’s just a taste of what’s in store…At the end of a long day, what better way to relax than by taking a leisurely stroll through a charming market square? For a host of delights and distractions, look no further than the Village Centre.
To the south of the centre, the High Street winds towards the Main Square and its selection of village-style shops and restaurants. While you’re here, why not find a shady spot to enjoy a drink and watch the world go by? Next, it’s onto the Church Square, where you’ll arrive at Priory Vale’s beautiful place of worship. Flanked by trees and open spaces, this tranquil setting serves as a perfect counterpoint to the
cosmopolitan buzz of the Village Centre.
To the east resides the Formal Square where graceful homes overlook a green enclosed by rural railings and traditional hedgerows. Meanwhile, tall trees at the Square’s corners dapple the elegant paving stones,offering welcome shelter from the elements. From there, a short walk west takes you to the Market Square, the traditional heart of the centre, where you’ll find an array of places to eat, drink and relax. What’s more, with plenty of parking and cycle racks, whether you want to walk, ride or drive, visiting the Village Centre is always refreshingly effortless.
Crest Nicholson said in 2007 that it was following the design guide laid down by Swindon Council
At a public meeting called by North Swindon councillors in March 2007, Chris Cain, project manager for land owner Crest Nicholson, had to respond to residents’ complaints about the lack of progress on delivering the village-style shops and outdoor cafes – as visualised in the marketing material.
He told people that Crest was following the design guide agreed with Swindon Council planners in 2002. “Judgement should be made when the village centre is complete in three years,” he said at the time. Read the full story at www.bit.ly/Redhousevc
However, in early April 2013 Crest secured permission from Swindon Council planners to overturn the original design agreement and use three unused plots for 33 houses, arguing there has been no commercial interest in providing the wide range of facilities originally envisaged. However a community centre, not in the original plan, is to be built and a site has been retained for a pub.
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson, who called the 2007 meeting when he was a councillor for North Swindon, said: “It’s extremely disappointing that Crest has failed to deliver the facilities that they bragged about in their expensive glossy brochures ten years ago. I’m glad that the community centre is going ahead, there is a great need and keen interest in using it, and I will continue to bring together Crest and Arkells Brewery to agree a realistic price for the land.
“House builders make all manner of claims for future development and people buy homes at a premium as a result, but they can’t be prosecuted under the Trade Description’s Act if they don’t deliver the promises.
"It’s an issue I’ve raised several times in Parliament.”
Right, the site for a community centre, off Frankel Avenue. Below, Justin Tomlinson MP and his mother Councillor Vera Tomlinson at the first phase of Redhouse Village Centre in 2011