The planning application for Regent Circus, Swindon's newest destination for families, food connoisseurs and entertainment enthusiasts has been submitted to Swindon Borough Council.
Regent Circus is on the site of the former Swindon College and it is a mixed development of vibrant leisure and food retail with quality housing, a supermarket and an exceptional 800 car parking spaces.
At the head of The Promenade, Swindon's proposed cultural quarter, a new cinema will become the focal point for leisure and the early evening cafe culture which has been lacking in Swindon. This scheme fully complements the retail scheme at Regent Place and together, both developments will further strengthen Swindon's regeneration.
Over the past twenty years, Swindon has suffered from 'the doughnut effect' as retail parks were built on the outskirts. The New Swindon Company and Swindon Borough Council are working hard with the developers to bring Swindon's town centre to life again, both in the daytime and with evening attractions.
With the cinema at the heart of Regent Circus and over 45,000 square feet designated for quality restaurants, the entertainment and leisure focus means developers will be able to attract much more upmarket restaurants that have never seen Swindon as a viable location before. National brands such as Caf?? Rouge, Wagamama, Zizi, Strada or Ha-Ha are all being targeted.
Ashfield Land and Parkridge Developments set up a joint venture in 2006 to deliver a ??125 million regeneration of the site, branded by the Council as a 'gateway' to the town. Covering nearly five acres, the development strengthens links between Old Town and the town centre. The old 1960's concrete and glass block (formerly Swindon College) will be replaced by a stunning, elliptical tower, sweeping round a corner up into Rollesten Street, near the well-known Beehive pub. Pedestrian access through the site will be restored, providing a direct link between Old Town and Swindon's retail shopping centre.
The red brick Victorian building fronting Victoria Road (the former Technical College), below, will be sympathetically restyled to house a 30,000 square feet, well-known foodstore. The character of the upper levels of the building is to be retained and prestigious offices will be available for small businesses.
The residential element of the scheme includes 265 one, two and three-bedroom apartments.
There are currently 94 'pay-and-display' parking spaces on the site and in the initial proposals, 300 spaces were planned. However, in a very bold move this has more than doubled to 800 spaces following feedback from the public consultation in July. The developers observed the plight of local residents as reported in the local press and felt it was important to improve parking in the area.
Chris Hitchings, Director of Development, The New Swindon Company, 'We are delighted that an application has been submitted that in due course will allow the eyesore that was the former Swindon College building to be removed. The plans are particularly interesting as the old technical college have been effectively incorporated into the design allowing one of Swindon's landmark buildings a new lease of life yet still retaining the character and charm of its Victorian facade.'
The second public consultation will be later this month. Because the developers own the freehold of the site, construction could begin as early as Autumn 2007 and the first units will open for business in late 2008. Ashfield Land is eager to deliver this part of Swindon's regeneration swiftly to support the Council's vision for a vibrant cultural quarter that underpins the changing perception of Swindon for the world at large.
The New Swindon Company was formed in 2002 to stimulate investment and co-ordinate plans to revitalise the town centre as a key component to achieving sustainable economic growth.
It is jointly funded by English Partnerships, the South West of England Regional Development Agency and Swindon Borough Council. Working with its strategic partners, it will act as a catalyst for change, driving and co-ordinating major projects, harnessing public sector powers and resources to assist the private sector in delivery and attracting new investment to the town.
Swindon's Regeneration Framework, which is targeted at delivering ??1 billion total investment value, includes seven major regeneration projects for the town centre.
These are: · The Promenade – home to the Council's new library with potential for new cultural facilities and the University of Bath's Institute of Contemporary and Interdisciplinary Arts
· The Exchange – a new flagship office area adjacent to Fleming Way with provision for new homes and leisure facilities
· The Hub – expanding Swindon's retail offer
· The Arena- a mix of retail, commercial and recreational facilities to include a central piazza and creating a focal point for the town centre
· North Star Village – providing a new and vibrant residential area
· Swindon Central – bringing the railway corridor to life and offering critical access to the town
· The Campus – business development area north of the railway.