TWO years after it received the green light from planners, there is still no sign of work starting on Swindon's new £270m indoor snow centre at North Star.

READ MORE: No progress at North Star snow centre site

As the council waits for news from developer Seven Capital, we take a look at the progress of six other key infrastructure or redevelopment projects which aim to shape the future of the town.


The New Eastern Villages scheme is the largest of all the council projects.

Under the plan Swindon will expand across the A419, with up to 8,000 houses being built in several different development areas – the villages in a swathe of currently green land between South Marston and east of the Wanborough Road.

Planning applications have been lodged for several the villages – the expansion of South Marston and Rowborough, Great Stall East, Lotmead and Lower Lotmead, Redlands and Foxbridge, with more to come.

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They are at varying stages of progress, but some of the essential infrastructure work is moving on.

Work is expected to start in the new year on the southern connector road which will run through the villages from South Marston to the Commonhead Roundabout.

A council spokesman said: “The council’s compulsory purchase order 2019 was confirmed by the secretary of state in March this year.

“Due to Covid-19 restrictions it has taken some time for the council to be in a legal position to notify all of the landowners affected. This has now taken place and no legal challenge has been made. The order now has legal effect and the council intends to proceed with acquiring the land set out in the order.

“This is very good news for Swindon as it means that the southern connector road can now be delivered as expected."


THE centrepiece of Swindon Borough Council’s plans for regenerating the business district of the town centre.

Insurance and finance company Zurich, which has its UK headquarters in the Tri-centre next door, is building itself a new home on the cleared site.

A six-storey tower block will be able to host nearly 1,000 staff and is to be built with the environment in mind, with staff encouraged to take the stairs and extra electric vehicle charging and bike facilities installed.

When it is built, Swindon Borough Council will buy the £38m building and lease it back to Zurich.

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Zurich UK chief operating officer John Keppel said: “Swindon has been home to Zurich for over 30 years and we’re pleased to be playing our part in the regeneration of the town centre.

"The positive impact that our buildings can have on the environment and health and wellbeing of employees are a vital part of our sustainability agenda and sit at the heart of our new office design.

“We’ve great employees and we’re providing them with a workplace that suits their needs helping them to continue delivering great service to our customers while playing a valuable role in our local community.”

Council leader David Renard said: “This is the first brand-new office block to be built in the town centre in a generation and is a real statement of intent, not to mention a show of faith, in our exciting vision to rejuvenate this particular area.

“This new striking building with its sustainable features will be a catalyst for further investment and build on our exciting plans for the Fleming Way Bus Boulevard and the adjacent Kimmerfields site.”


CLOSING Fleming Way to motor traffic apart from buses, having every bus which serves Swindon stop there and creating a public transport hub is another keep feature of the council’s regeneration plans.

With the aim of reconnecting the business district and the main shopping area, the entire road will be lowered, removing the pedestrian underpass from the Parade, and allowing those on foot to cross at street level.

A bid had been put in to the government’s Towns Fund for £25m, with much of that money to be spent on creating the 'boulevard'. An early tranche of £1m from the fund has also been allocated to the project.

A decision on the Towns Fund bid is expected imminently.

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Cabinet member for the town centre Dale Heenan said: “Cranes and diggers arrived in August for the first new office development in 20 years in the town centre, and this £1m should lay the foundation for the next set of cranes and diggers to arrive.

“I hope this is a sign that the board will be successful in its bid for £25m from the Towns Fund and shows that Swindon is bouncing back.”


ONE of Swindon’s most historic neighbourhoods has now been declared a Heritage Action Zone by English Heritage.

It means there is funding for its regeneration over the next five years – increasing community use of one of the town’s most historic neighbourhoods.

But at the heart of the HAZ is the Mechanics’ Institute in Emlyn Square and that is proving to be a difficult nut to crack.

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It has been shut for decades and is falling apart behind its safety barriers.

Swindon council does not own the building and by the admission of Coun Heenan, it couldn’t afford to buy back the building and restore it and find a new use for it out of its own coffers.

The council is working with the Mechanics’ Institute Trust on coming up with viable new uses for the building and then finding private companies willing to take it on.

It is considering a compulsory purchase order to take back the building from owner Forefront Estates.

Coun Heenan said: “The reason we were able to get the Heritage Action Zone up and running and get Historic England on board is because, as a number one priority, it will do something about the Mechanics’.

“We have ideas and we have the right people in the room, they’re all part of this group and I’m confident residents here will see something actually happening in two or three years’ time.”


THE centre of Swindon could be radically remodelled by the putting up to two huge tower blocks if the owners of the Brunel centre’s ambitious plans are realised.

FI Real Estate Management has put in plans for two blocks of flats – with nearly 300 apartments between them – to be built at the Wharf Green end of the site.

At the foot of the skyscrapers would be restaurants, bars, cafes and other leisure and a small park off Farnsby Street, where a ramp into the car park now sits.

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Success would mean demolishing part of the Brunel centre where the House of Fraser store is sited.

When the store announced it was staying open this summer, FI Real Estate said: “Our plans for the redevelopment of the Brunel remain unchanged and we’re continuing to work closely with the council and local stakeholders to deliver our vision for Swindon.”


THE restoration and renovation of the old GWR carriage works, which line London Street near the railway station has been a real success.

The borough council has been working to find a use for the 19th century buildings as business premises.

The first part of that redevelopment – the Workstation – is used as a home for new businesses, particularly tech start-ups, to find both reasonably-priced office space which is flexible and can be scaled up as well as advice from the council’s business teams and also build a community with other companies of similar size.

Another two units in the building will see postgraduate students at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester attending lectures and seminars. The university has just opened its Cultural Heritage Institute in the Victorian building.

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Students reading for qualifications in heritage management will do so in a Heritage Action Zone.

Director of the institute Dr Geraint Coles said: “What better place could there be to study heritage management than in an area like the Railway Village?”