Private firms will fund regeneration blueprint
THE deputy leader of the Labour Party is calling for a masterplan to regenerate Swindon’s town centre to be pushed forward.
Coun Mark Dempsey, who represents the Walcot and Park North ward, says major work needs to take place to combat the town’s derelict buildings and empty shops, particularly in Fleet Street and the top end of Regent Street.
He worked alongside Swindon Council and Forward Swindon to create a master scheme to identify changes which could benefit the centre of town, but said action needs to start now.
Under plans for the future of Swindon’s centre he would like to see new parks and open spaces, a new iconic Art Gallery to house Swindon’s impressive art collection; new walkways across the railway line linking the Oasis Leisure Zone, the Outlet Village and the town centre and a Railway Heritage area bringing back into use Swindon’s historic assets including the Mechanics’ Institute; “Swindon is a town with huge potential and I believe we should be ambitious for the future of our town,” said Coun Dempsey.
“Helping the high street is vital to support business and create a town centre that we can be proud of. “That is why it is my top priority to push forward with regenerating the centre of town.”
To pay for the project, Coun Dempsey said once a clear strategy was in place, funding from the private sector could be attracted. He also said council funding could be steered towards the high street ahead of other projects.
Schemes such as pop-up shops, where retailers take on the store on a short term, temporary basis, were also highlighted by Coun Dempsey as a possible way to solve the empty shop problem.
“Pop-up shops bring empty shops back to life, they get new businesses going, and they unleash our young retail entrepreneurs on to our high street,” he said.
A ban on street markets in certain areas of the town was lifted last month by Swindon Council and Coun Dempsey said he wanted to support traders in setting up markets in the town.
“Imagine a regular farmers’ market, book market or craft market in the town centre,” he said.
“It would give the high street a lift and draw new people into our town.
“I would like progress to be made in regenerating this town to make it a good day out for the family.”