The grant of £19.5m of government money for regeneration projects in the town centre is a massive vote of confidence in Swindon says the man running the schemes.

And, according to the chairman of the Town's Fund Board leading the six schemes, they come together to instil "confidence and ambition" in the town which will attract even more money here.

Richard Newland is the chairman of the Town's Fund Board, which is to spend £19.5 m of government-granted money on sic projects: enabling work on the Kimmerfields site where Zurich's £350m new headquarters and 450 houses will be built; renovating and opening up more of the Victorian Health Hydro in Milton Road; more work on opening up the GWR Carriage Works as a business and learning centre; a new space for Create Studios in the Carriage Works, improvements to London Street, Sheppard Street and Station Road, especially two underpasses; and a new regular town centre market.

But as well as individual improvements Mr Newland believes together the schemes will kickstart a real revitalisation of the town centre.

He said: "Each project has to stand on its own, and work on its own, and there's a very rigorous process we have to go through to prove they will and get the money.

"But it's when you put them together that it really starts to gain momentum.

"They key is the connectivity of it all. The biggest project is enabling work at Kimmerfields. The Town's Fund is spending £6m and there's £10.5m of borough council money. That will be a flagship new office building for Zurich. But there's also 450 homes to be built there. and room for more offices.

"You might ask whether offices are needed after the pandemic, but they are, demand is rising in London and other towns including Swindon.

"Post-Covid there's an opportunity for a mixture, people will work in an office two or three days a week - and perhaps they'll want5 a nicer house in Swindon than a much more expensive and smaller one in London. Or for those staring out, a two or three-bed town centre flat just yards from the business district."

The enabling work for the scheme includes making sure roads and utilities like water and broadband and power are ready before the building goes up. Mr Newland said: "Developers want to make a quick buck. That means 18 to 36 months. If the infrastructure is ready, they'll want to build in Swindon - but not if they have to wait four or five years for the roads to be built."

With the northern end of the town centre revitalised, and crucially easier and nicer to get to, with the underpass being removed, Mr Newland says it will both benefit, and benefit from the other projects: "The market will bring people into town at Wharf Green, that's easy. But with more people, living in the town, and the streets around the railway station improved and Railway Village and the GWR sheds more attractive, there's momentum there and the place will be more attractive for more investment.

"£19.5m is a huge amount of money to be given, it's a vote of confidence, and that, and the increase in confidence as these projects come about and the place looks better and there are better facilities for people will draw in more investment, and it will keep on building."

And, Mr Newland said, the projects could even help bring back the dilapidated Mechanics' Institute in the heart of the Railway Village.

He said: "It's not something we can address with Town's Fund money - we had to choose 'shovel ready' projects to be able to have a chance to get the money in the first place, and the Mechanics' would take far too long.

"But if we make improvements to the streets in the area, if we improve the Health Hydro and more people come, if the Carriage Works continues its success and becomes a place for businesses and the home of the University of Bath, then suddenly the Railway Village has become revitalised. There are more people coming here then that makes the Mechanic's Institute, which is absolutely glorious, much more attractive to a developer who will be more likely to want to invest in it."

After working as a director at nationwide for five years until April Mr Newland is well versed in Swindon and the struggles the town centre has faced,

He said: "I've been really impressed at how many new businesses have opened up here in the last year, even after the pandemic. The big corporate names might be closing, but smaller independents are coming in. The Brunel Centre has independents' corner, the food court is full of small local businesses. It should be applauded.

"The centre has to change, but being a place just for shopping is a relatively recent development - High Streets were for markets and meeting people, and people lived there. More houses in the town centre, like the ones at Kimmerfields will bring more people all through the day, and businesses will spring up to serve them.

"We have to get these six projects right, and as I said, they have to stand on their own. But the effect they will have, all joined up, on making Swindon town centre more vibrant is very exciting."