Forward Swindon is responsible for changing Swindon by driving the regeneration and investment activity in the town on behalf of Swindon Borough Council. Ian Piper, CEO at Forward Swindon (pictured above) says “We will see the improvement of Swindon town centre over the years to come and as a result, Swindon’s external image will gradually get better.” He continues “Businesses have told us they support the regeneration. They want to see these changes happen.”A town of two halves
The view from the roof of Jury’s Inn (above) shows how Fleming Way splits Swindon town centre in two. Nowadays, the dual carriageway is used less, but it has a huge impact on the heart of Swindon – dividing up important parts of the town. The main route for people walking from the train station, bus station and their places of work (Zurich’s Tricentre complex, for example), to the shops in Swindon town centre, is through a subway that goes under the road. It puts them off coming into town at lunchtimes and evenings.
So, as part of the regeneration of the town centre, the plan is to get rid of the subway completely and make changes to Fleming Way to improve the centre for everyone.
What exactly is happening – and when?
In about two years’ time, Fleming Way will be closed to all traffic except buses, and the road will be narrowed and lowered to the same level as the pedestrian area. It will become a pleasant, landscaped avenue that will allow people to walk easily between the retail and business areas. Fleming Way will become a “shared space”: for people, buses and cycles. Later in the regeneration, a new bus exchange will replace the existing bus station, sitting on the site of Cheltenham Street car park.
To help bring all this to life you can watch Ian Piper, CEO at Forward Swindon walking through the town centre and explaining everything: see our Changing Swindon videos. If you’d like more information about the overall Masterplan for Swindon, a precis is available at Forward Swindon’s website. You can also download the full document, which has been adopted by the Council, and has cross party support. So plans made today will not be overturned if the administration changes.
Why announce this two years ahead of the changes?
These changes were detailed in the planning permission granted for the overall Kimmerfields central business district project in 2012, even though Fleming Way won’t actually close to cars until 2016. Forward Swindon, the Council and developers Muse, have started the process of communicating the changes to local businesses and residents so that people have as much notice as possible.
During this period before the works start, material will be produced which gives drivers, pedestrians and other road users all the information they’ll need to get around in the future. This may include detailed route planners, new signage and passenger information provided through the bus companies. We’ll keep you updated.
Is the closure of Fleming Way really necessary?
Swindon is a great place to live and work. But there is no doubt it needs to continue to update itself. A pleasant town centre is an important “pull” factor in persuading organisations and their staff to relocate into an area or stay and invest. So Forward Swindon is changing Swindon for the future, and for the better.
See full presentation here: