A degenerating regeneration

I’ve never had much trust in property developers and their colleagues, but with every passing bad news story about the regeneration of Swindon town centre, the words of the New Swindon Company become less believable. It’s just a couple of weeks since Mr James of the New Swindon Company was claiming that Modus were fully committed to the Regents Place development… which they’d just shelved. Two days ago, after Modus went into administration, Mr James was still as over-optimistic as ever.

Being placed into administration was one of a number of possibilities and therefore we have been looking into how we can still move forward with development at Regent Place… and we will work to get Regent Place back on track.

Now it’s reported that the development is to be scaled back to little more than a supermarket in Granville Street car park.

Maybe there’s room for food retailers to come into the town centre. If there was a big supermarket interested maybe they could go onto the Granville Street car park site. It would be something to attract people in and then there could be restaurants attached to it.

A supermarket. Stunning. And plenty of joined up thinking there as a supermarket is also proposed to occupy the old college building on Victoria Road.

There’s another aspect to this that undermines what little credibility the New Swindon Company had. It’s not so long ago that they were telling us that regeneration is a very long term thing, that couldn’t be blown of course by troubles in the economy, and that Swindon would be a destination to rival others in the south. It’s all different now. Mr James’ has scaled back the ambitions.

We are not trying to compete with Cribbs Causeway or The Oracle. We need to concentrate on making Swindon special and attracting people to the centre. We are looking at bringing more restaurants into the town centre.

Mr Young has forgotten the long term nature of the plans.

The Modus scheme was the right one for the time but we now have to look at how the market has changed and see how our regeneration fits into that…. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on what will bring people to Swindon, considering there are already two huge shopping developments at Bristol and Reading.

And now they’re thinking of another round of ‘consultation’, which will keep them and some consultants in a job whilst nothing much is happening.

This hyperbole and bluster would almost be comical if we weren’t paying dearly for this farce through our taxes.