Plans have been unveiled to spend £35m on a regeneration of the Locarno building in Old Town, Swindon.
The building has lay in disrepair since 1984, after being used as a dance hall, corn exchange, storage of wine in the cellars, banquets and grand bazaars, and entertainment of all sorts.
According to a new website which has just gone live www.theexchangeswindon.co.uk, the plans include keeping the facade of the existing Locarno but completely transforming the interior and the adjacent square which is currently used as a car park. This will include shops, a hotel, a cinema, flats, bars and restaurants.
The designs for a revamped Corn Exchange have been created by award winning architects FCB Studios and features a glass roof over the old Locarno Ballroom, which will be surrounded by restaurants, cafés, bars, bistros, boutique cinema and niche retail shops.
Market Square will assume its historic purpose as a public square, not a car park, with a beautiful new public piazza. The clock tower and façade will be restored, entertainment will be encouraged, as would a sustainable street market.
According to the website: “The public realm along High Street and Wood Street will be transformed with high quality paved surfaces, signage, trees, street lighting, all designed so people are more important than the motorcar.”
Built in 1852, the first Corn Exchange served as a corn store and market, with offices above. It became Swindon’s first Town Hall, hosting public meetings and the magistrates court. Just a few years later, a bigger, grander building was needed, and the current design, with its 80 foot Italianate clock tower, elegant arcades and a fountain under a glass dome, opened in 1866.
The relative heyday for the Locarno came with the likes of The Who and The Yardbirds pumping their musical tones into the ageing stone during the 1960’s and 70’s.
With partnership agreements made in July 2016, according to the new website, the timeline for restoration and renovation will include the public display of the proposals in March 2017, detailed planning applications to be submitted in May and construction to begin October 2017. This is estimated to be completed within two years with the first shops opening in November 2019.
If you would like to see the vision for the Locarno yourself, visit the new website at: http://www.theexchangeswindon.co.uk