Ambitious £350m plans for town centre's future
Updated 11:30am Thursday 6th March 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
THE next stage of the £350 million Kimmerfields development was fully revealed yesterday with hopes high it will result in a major boost for the town.
Following the completion of the Whalebridge car park last year, the second phase will see Fleming Way lowered down to the same level as the rest of the town centre, thereby getting rid of the underpass near Debenhams.
The road will become a single carriage east to west bus route and will house a brand new bus inter-change, with an open public space on the available space subsequently created.
On the site of the current bus station and adjacent car park, office space will be built providing upwards of 3,500 new jobs and 450 new apartments, along with shops and restaurants.
The council, Forward Swindon and developers MUSE believe the development is a natural progression for the development of the town centre.
Ian Piper, the Chief Executive of Forward Swindon, said: “I am excited about Kimmerfields because it is a big development which will transform the town centre.
“When you take into account the extra jobs and restaurants, all the extra spending power will have huge economic benefits for the town.
“Fleming Way has always acted as a natural barrier for the town centre which this development will remove. We have spoken with staff from Zurich who have said the entrance way to the town centre through the underpass has in the past put them off from coming in.
“It is not just about building up this part of the town but the whole of the town centre.”
The diggers are not set to move in until 2016 and then the full development will be carried out in stages so it is unlikely to be completed for more than a decade.
Currently, the necessary work is being done behind the scenes involving the compulsory purchase of certain bits of land and applications to close the road.
The Development Director at MUSE, Doug Finlay, said: “This is a small step towards an organic growth of the town centre. The council administration have seen an opportunity and have taken it with both hands.
“I think when Fleming Way was first built it was because it was where people saw the town centre ending but I think that has now changed and the only natural direction for it is to move it north.
“We can’t do everything at once otherwise we will strangle the town centre so we will carry it out in stages. This is an example of the town centre fighting back.”
There have been some concerns raised that stopping traffic from using Fleming Way will cause trouble on other roads.
Coun Garry Perkins (Con, Shaw), the cabinet member for regeneration, said: “This is not about trying to stop cars getting into the town centre. Routes have been made for people to take and we are expanding the capacity of roads elsewhere so people getting across the town will not have to drive through the town centre.
“There is likely to be some problems for some people as we are shifting a major through route but we have two years in which to discuss solutions with residents and ward councillors.
“I am expecting some good ideas to come out in that time and we’ll see if it is possible to implement them.”
KIMMERFIELDS DEVELOPMENT FACTFILE
- Currently, Swindon Council is preparing to take action to ensure the Kimmerfields development can proceed as planned.
- A request to issue a compulsory purchase order to buy several pockets of land around the proposed site will allow developers to move forward with the proposal.
- There are nine areas in total and although most of the sites are small pieces of land with no buildings, one of the sites is next to the underpass near Debenhams and includes the Greggs and the Cornish Bakehouse shops.
- If the CPO goes ahead, compensation will be available to ensure the development goes ahead. For this just over £1.6 million has been set aside.
- Talks are ongoing with landowners to negotiate the deal but the CPO is being recommended in order to ensure everything can go ahead before a deadline in May this year.
- If the council does not have control of the land by then, the deal with Muse Developments will be under threat, although the deadline is expected to be extended.
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