Author Topic: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed  (Read 23150 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Ermintrude

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 57
Talk Swindon's Press Office reporting on behalf of Geoff! (This topic is locked until he returns from a sojourn into The Smoke - expect a pithy and insightful run-down from him later on!)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Live from the House of Commons, Geoff Reid sends this NewSwindon Company press release.  Expect a further posting with personal comment this evening. 


Swindon signs deal worth more than £200 million

The regeneration of Swindon town centre has taken a step forward with the signing of a Development Agreement which will bring more than £200 million pounds of private and public sector investment into the town centre, and deliver one of the largest regeneration projects in the South West.
Modus Properties has committed to deliver Regent Place, a £215 million scheme, comprising 32,500 sq m of high quality retail, residential, leisure and car park spaces.

This development represents the start of a new era for Swindon. Given the current difficult economic climate and the fact that many regeneration schemes around the UK are being stalled, this agreement re-affirms confidence in the town. Regent Place will bring nearly a quarter of a billion pounds worth of investment into the town centre – and with another Development Agreement on track to be signed by Muse Developments in the very near future, the long-term future of Swindon looks secure.

Cllr Phil Young, Swindon Borough Council Cabinet member for Economic Development and Regeneration, said: “Given the current gloomy economy, the signing of this agreement really puts Swindon step ahead of many other regeneration schemes in the UK. This has all come as a result of extensive work by all the partners involved, and is a true sign that progression is being made in the town centre. Regent Place is the first step in part of a bigger picture – of a Swindon where people want to be. This scheme is a major priority for Swindon and will be promoted and defended energetically; given the wide reaching role it’s considered to play in driving the longer term regeneration of the town.”

Neal Dale from Modus added: “Regent Place will make a huge difference to Swindon town centre, providing the type of retail and leisure facilities that will bring in visitors from miles around. Swindon has been crying out for redevelopment for some time and we are extremely proud to be a part of it.”

Peter James, Chief Executive of The New Swindon Company, said: “Considering the economic conditions currently facing the UK we are delighted to be able to announce the completion of the Development Agreement with Modus and the Muse Agreement which will be completed quite soon. Swindon is bucking the national trend – the town has absolutely massive potential and these developments, which are a major investment into Swindon’s future, will go a long way to realising it. They will provide the quality of design and new facilities that the town deserves, benefiting those who live, work and spend time here. "



Offline Geoff Reid

  • Twitter: @Geoff_Reid
  • Active But Odd
  • Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 10109
  • Gender: Male
  • Bald as a chimps arse
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2008, 07:20:22 PM »
 
Sorry for the delay in posting anything other than a press release....several days of travelling and partying, (weddings eh?), finally caught up with me late yesterday afternoon.  Now I've been fed, watered and slept for more than a few hours I'm finally up to tapping out a few sentences.

I hope they make sense. As usual I'm not following, parroting or adapting the press release to simulate originality, these are just a few of my own impressions and opinions and they are subject to revisions and rewrites as I spot typos and grammatical errors. I am still tired, there are bound to be things I've forgotten which I'll wish to add-in later....

.....all errors are entirely mine, feel free to point them out and heckle  :)




Firstly, let's have another quick look at the subject of yesterdays announcement, (for the moment I'll completely ignore Muse Development):


Regents Place - Part of the 'Hub' which will be constructed by Modus Properties.   I will try and obtain some hi res images for your delectation and consideration.

 

The New Swindon Company's website describes Regents Place as offering a safe and secure environment for families in a vibrant and attractive setting which will be welcoming to all ages. The Regents Place development will branch off Regent Street and link into the first floor of the Brunel Shopping with 24 hour access public spaces. (presumably only open-air spaces will be 24hr).

In 2007, outline planning approval was granted for a 300,000 sq ft two-level open retail scheme which contain one major retail store, (Debenhams), with further large retail units, (up to 25,000 sq ft), a 30,000 sq ft 'Manna Food Hall' and a selection of restaurants and cafes. In addition to the retail spaces there will be approximately 250 residential apartments and a new 750 space under ground car park.


Right then...where to start?, last week I think.....


I was having a pleasant chat with Councillor Phil Young, during which he told me about yesterdays press conference and asked whether I would like to go along to it on behalf of Talkswindon and, (Because I enjoy making the occasional meagre contribution to the steady stream of really interesting posts), I naturally agreed  :)

The choice of venue gave me pause for thought, why the Houses of Parliament and not somewhere in Swindon I wondered?.....and I'm afraid I still can't answer that for you.  It's possible that someone thought that a Parliamentary venue would give the announcement more gravitas than the Swindon civic offices would do and it's also logical to assume that, as London is the centre of the UK property market, the announcement should be made there.  In any event, all I can really confirm is that a fairly large gaggle of people made their disparate ways into the capital yesterday.

We, (Tig and I), decided to drive up to the smoke after discovering that a pair of return rail tickets would cost us £208, plus tube or taxi fares from Paddington station to Westminster and back again. Taking the Chelsea tractor through Sloane ranger territory and parking it more or less on Brian Haw's front lawn cost less than £60.  This figure included £40 worth of diesel, bunging £8 into BoJo's congestion charge coffers and being robbed of a straight tenner to leave my private tank in an NCP silo's. yes, like all other NCP carparks it did smell of piss, but as it was only a stones throw from the Mother of all Parliaments I figured the carpark was actually the lesser of two olfactory evils.

A quick stagger across College green and we were joining the queue for security checks. The checks themselves are pretty much of airline standard although the Parliamentary lot give you a free frisking. As I was being felt up, the guards hand lingered for a second, just West of the family jewels, where he had detected a certain 'firmness'. The guard looked me in the eye and asked: "Soft or extra strong?".  "No officer", I replied, "I'm just excited".  he was, of course, referring to the packet of soft mints in my trouser pocket.

Through the security checks and there's a short walk round to the Eastern entrance of Westminster hall. Westminster Hall is the only major piece of the original and ancient Palace of Westminster surviving in its original form. It was built between 1097-99 on the orders of William Rufus, son of William the Conqueror.  The hall has the largest medieval roof in Northern Europe and some of the largest flagstones I have ever seen.  If its timbers and stones could speak they would tell of the trials of William Wallace (1305), the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot in 1606 and of King Charles the First in 1649. All were tried by the Royal Courts of Justice which sat in Westminster hall until 1882.

Two fascinating plaques in the floor of Westminster Hall

[float=left] [/float]  I don't know about Blair claiming to have felt the 'hand of history' on his shoulder, but I defy any Englishman or Woman to stand in Westminster Hall and not feel the weight of our history bearing down on theirs. I paused for a moment in the centre of the hall, almost exactly where the Queen Mother had lain in state for three days in 2002, and I reflected on our past history, and how it has led us to where we are now but instead of hearing 'Jerusalem' echoing through my mind I was instead struck by the curious and almost comical images of Kenneth Graeme's weasels taking over Toad Hall in his story 'The Wind In The Willows', but this is another thread entirely.




Westminster Hall



Having limped my way across the Hall and ascended the magnificent steps at its Western end, who should Tig and I bump into on St Stephens porch?, but fellow TS member and Tory Councillor Peter Greenhalgh who was on his way out for a smoke so, passing by the armed policeman at St Stephens entrance we stood outside, with curious members of the public passing by just feet away, but on the other side of the concrete anti vehicle bomb barriers, and we smoked, chatted, and smoked again until it was time to wander into the press conference. 


Inside St Stephens Porch - Looking upwards and into St Stephens Hall




St Stephens Hall



On our way back in we ascended the steps into St Stephens porch and walked the length of St Stephens hall before meeting the main body of the press party in the central lobby. It is the octagonal central lobby which separates the House of Commons from the 'Other Place', i.e the House of Lords.  The lobby is underneath the central tower and has some marvellous stained glass windows which variously depict St Patrick for Ireland, St George for England, St David for Wales and St Andrew for Scotland.

The Central Lobby



The central lobby was struck by a German bomb in 1941 and was quite badly damaged. Winston Churchill ensured that the lobby was reconstructed to the original design using as much of the original stone as possible.

Churchill's statue in the lobby




Moving out of the central lobby we descend some stairs, entering a long corridor off which are several dining rooms and both the Peers library and commons library. Each library is roughly adjacent to each house and the dining rooms lie between the libraries. The terrace runs alongside the outside wall of the dining rooms and libraries and is about 650 feet long, about the same length as the corridor we are tramping along on our way to our dining room destination. Thankfully the room we're in is only a few yards along this massive corridor.

By convention, everyone attending an event within the Commons dining rooms must be sponsored by a member of Parliament, and the sponsor, (in this case Anne Snelgrove MP), had booked the dining room, sponsored and paid for the event.

The announcement

Anne Snelgrove made a few complimentary and introductory remarks about Swindon before introducing Peter James, the chief executive of the New Swindon Company who also made a few complimentary remarks about Swindon before introducing Phil Young.



Councillor Phil Young



Phil spoke at length about how exciting the Conservative led regeneration plans were now getting and how gratifying it was that the plans were now bearing fruit, the new library and Wharf Green being two good examples.  Ongoing investment would make Swindon a place where "People would want to be" said Phil.

Phil said: "I'm absolutely delighted to tell you that Swindon Borough Council has signed a development agreement with Modus which will bring £215 million of investment into the town centre". 

I was in no doubt that Phil was delighted, and possibly a little relieved to be able to make the announcement, also more than a little disappointed that he wasn't able to announce that Muse developments had signed a similar development deal for the Union Square development.  Muse had, the day before, announced that they would be unable to sign their agreement until all the lawyers, (of which there are at least three sets), had crossed the t's and dotted the i's.  I later spoke to several people about Muse not signing up yet and the consensus of opinion seemed to be that the hold up was a minor technicality caused by multiple sets of lawyers all earning their fees.  I suppose if you were building a house from the ground up, but had to use one lawyer to deal with the local council, one to deal with the builders and another to deal with the bank, then it's almost inevitable that there will be delays.....but time will tell, eh?

I'm sure I'm not alone in wondering exactly what regeneration means for me and for Swindon.  Councillor Young was quite forthcoming on the point: " What does this mean for Swindon?" he said. "We've had thirty years of under-investment in our town centre....and it shows! This council has brought forward a very exciting vision of what we want from our town.  We want our town to be a place where people want to come and live and want to spend their time here. Clearly the development deal signed today is a major step towards this".

On Cllr Youngs first point I think it would be difficult to disagree, afterall the evidence of underinvestment is there for all to see.  The second point is a little hazier....and although I'm sure it is an exciting vision for those that have been nurturing it from the egg towards flight status, I'm equally sure that many others who are currently dissatisfied with the town centre as it is are deeply worried by the thought of what it may yet become.  Somewhere along the line, a gulf has opened between the town visionaries and the towns inhabitants and the regeneration message simply isn't getting across.  The enthusiasm for these regeneration projects demonstrated by Cllr Young and colleagues simply hasn't proved as infectious as had been hoped for and I think it's entirely fair to say that the cynicism often demonstrated here on TS is matched by a deep exasperation on the other side of the communications gulf.

It is already true that people want to come and live in Swindon, Tig and I certainly did, and it's true that we enjoy spending our time here too.  I can't speak for Tig on the regeneration plans, but I don't personally think retail outlets, cinemas and cafes will 'do it' by themselves, if the people don't feel particularly enervated by something special and different, the 'Swindon sulk' will continue to be the mood of the majority for a while longer.

A few minutes later and Phil Young finishes by extending his thanks to the SBC team of officers who had worked hard towards securing the Modus deal saying that they had "matched Modus with the energy and commitment they had brought to the negotiations" and, "This deal will be of huge benefit to the town and all the residents of the town".  Rod Bluh then took to the podium and addressed the assemblage.


Leader of the Council - Rod Bluh



"I feel privileged to be here" began Rod, "at such an important time for Swindon. This really is the moment that the regeneration of Swindon gets underway in a very tangible way. The Modus development is hugely important as it will be Swindons retail hub. We have other schemes in the pipeline with a value of somewhere in the region of £650 million which, in times of economic difficulty is quite significant. We're absolutely delighted that Swindon is bucking the trend and is going to keep moving forwards".

I watch Rod intently. It's obvious that he's not particularly comfortable under the media spotlight but it's equally obvious that he's delivering a 'good news' message and that he's very pleased to be able to do so.  Rod gives an honest, businesslike explanation of the "immense amount of work done by Swindon Borough Council, the New Swindon Company, SBC's partners and Modus" in bring the deal to a successful signing and for the commitment they are showing to our town.

As he continues to talk, I try to imagine, in turn, each one of Swindons labour councillors at the podium instead of Rod Bluh delivering the same message. I'd already tried and dismissed Cllr's Small, Wright, Ali when I mentally put Monty there, and had to choke back a guffaw, right, because, right, this is a mental picture, right, that's right, right!, a picture too far.  At present I don't believe there are any Labour councillors in Swindon who are capable of pulling together in a single direction and manage to do so in a coherent, businesslike and credible fashion. There might be a couple amongst them that think they can, but a brief examination of the ludicrously expensive PFI deals 'secured' by the last Labour administration proves, (to me at least), that they can't, at least not at a price that makes sense to me.

No, when it comes down to it, and bearing in mind that I put the boot into the Tory group as regularly as I do to the Labour crowd - this is not something the labour group could do, even if the group were large enough to control the council in the first place. In fact what usually happens when a labour group gets large enough to control anything is the immediate magnification of the desire to control everything. Given that labour has always suffered from an ingrained financial ineptitude and magpie-like instincts to snatch at bright shiny objects..... a successful and good value for money regeneration for Swindon under a labour council wouldn't be likely.... and the thought of Derique Montaut rambling away in the spotlight of the national media ought to make labours most ardent supporters in Swindon shrink backwards in sphincter tingling dread.  Credibility, and knowing when to say Yes and No are the Ace, Kings and Queen in this game, and Rods gang appear to have not only read the rule book, but have understood it.

"We're very ambitious for our town" continues Rod, "the regeneration announced today is part of a much wider vision and we're focused not only on physical regeneration but we're also looking at cultural regeneration, at raising and developing our culture......we want to make Swindon a destination of the future and we won't be satisfied until we've achieved that".

So why are we, as a town and a community, so sceptical of 'regeneration'.  Is our scepticism just a normal resistance or hesitancy to accepting and adopting a change in our environment?, or is it something much deeper?  I've heard Rod Bluh give variants of his 'regeneration speech' a few times now, and the most significant part of it for me is his assertion that "regeneration is about people as well as buildings".  It's a worthy sentiment and I hope it proves to be achievable, but at the present time I admit to not feeling much more enthused by yesterdays news, energised by regeneration visions or excited by the prospect of a vibrant town centre.

I spent all of yesterday pondering my own negative feelings and I think I'm a few steps closer to understanding them.  In my own case I'm sceptical because I'm simply not engaged.  I often hear that regeneration will be a 'good thing' for Swindon, but I think what I actually need to hear is an explanation of how regeneration will be good for me personally.  I do believe that Councillors like Phil Young and Rod Bluh are, (when politics are put to one side), genuinely altruistic in their pursuit of regeneration, and that they are doing what they do because they believe absolutely that these projects are a good thing for Swindon, and by association, us.

But.....Swindons electorate isn't particularly altruistic at the best of times, let alone when their environment is changing around them. I think there is a generalised and widespread attitude of  'It might be a shit shopping centre with zero architectural interest - but it's our shitty shopping centre!'. Add central government's taxation assault on our personal finances, fuel tanks and identities, and it's a wonder anyone ever gets out of bed to vote. Public antipathy rules, and is widening the information gulf betwixt council and person.  This was readily acknowledged by Rod Bluh when I spoke to him yesterday. "How do we reach everybody?" he asked, although I assume he meant getting 'the message' to everyone as opposed to involving everyone in a two way dialogue in which the electorates opinion would have a real and influential effect on the final outcome.  I also suspect that developers willing to front the bulk of the money needed to regenerate a town centre will always have the greater say in how it will look and what it will contain. Perhaps it's true to say: 'No Money?, No Opinion!'. 

So, unless philanthropic billionaires start taking an interest in urban regeneration, and they are willing to listen to local people saying "We know it ain't an earner, but we'd really like an art gallery and a museum"......then it probably isn't ever going to happen.  Once preferred developer status is awarded, fiscal expediency and duty towards shareholder dividends will win out over easy pre-agreement tempters every time. Mind you, I really do like the new climbing wall in Wharf Green......

....oh.


Although I may know a little more about regeneration than an 'average' man in the street, I'm also on the wrong side of the informational & influence gulf I mentioned earlier.  I don't feel as if I know enough about the detail of the plans to get enthusiastic yet....so it's easier to remain sceptical and assume that the promised art galleries and museums won't materialise in the finished articles and simply expect that we'll be left with a regenerated town centre which isn't substantially different enough to make Swindon stand out from a dozen other regenerated town centres across Britain.   Having Debenhams, Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Borders and Boots won't, in my opinion, make our town centre different from 50 others, art, culture and the unusual might. I am minded of the Parisian culture of encouraging young people to pursue their favourite hobbies in the nooks and crannies of urban spaces...but already know that the 'Stasi' culture which is currently creeping through council chambers and town centres will frown upon and finally forbid such displays of individualism. Public expression of culture in these newly regenerated public places seems doomed from the start. Unless our council takes engaging and positive steps now, the only culture we'll see in the Hub will arrive on the backs of the Clown and the Colonel, or be glimpsed through the plate glass of high end retailers.  'On street' culture won't exist unless it is has the correct permit, has been taxed and the 'right' to show it to the public has been purchased six months in advance. We're already in the pay as you go, pay as you drive, pay as you throw culture now....paying to share your art, skill or performance is only a few steps further down the road.


Meanwhile, back in the dining room.....delicious nibbles are being served and wine glasses are being handed out by House of Commons waiters and waitresses. Gentle mingling is occurring and interviews are being given to all and sundry, the mood is good and I talk to a few people and eavesdrop on a few more. It occurs to me that developers, architects, lawyers and money men conduct their work in an environment in which the actual people of a town have as much substance as the cut and pasted figures in the illustrations above....we're as tangible as mist to them, what's of real relevance is the amount of money you may bring with you into the town centre, and how much of it you're likely to spend in retail units that your particular demographic is most likely to visit. The only real link between us and them is our council, and for their part they know that the link to us is, at best, partial, and to a certain degree and for much much of the process we are excluded from the process by commercial neccessity.  To deliver what they think is best for us and our town, they must do so without us being fully in the know. Ironically, because of the vaguaries of the planning process, they are also not yet 'fully in the know' until detailed plans are submitted. What is finally delivered may differ substantially from what they currently think we are getting.   

It's certainly an exciting time for them but to be completely honest I don't envy them their respective positions.  They seem to have tried extremely hard to do the best they can for us and the town under the current system, but the developers are already old hands at getting the best out of the system for themselves and their shareholders. For the developers, the primary consideration must be profitability, meaning our council must lift its skirts for them just enough to display a tempting proposition, but not so far as to be left with a town centre which will be the butt of jokes for another 30 years.

On balance, and from what little I've seen and heard about it, I think the Regents Place development will prove to be a good thing for the town, and if the housing market hasn't picked up in the next couple of years it's likely it will be a vital thing for the towns tradesmen. It's true to say I'm more confident that the current Tory council administration will get us a new town centre without being mugged by the developers, (Labour have proved themselves to be much less capable in this respect), but that I also harbour doubts as to whether our council will be able to understand and act appropriately on the messages the community send back to it whilst the process is in motion.

Penultimately, I think regeneration and restorative work needs doing to enable better two-way communications between council and the community. The information gulf needs to be pulled shut by both sides.

Ultimately, I'm someone who likes town centres where I can spend quality time simply enjoying the environment.  I don't enjoy the modern phenomenon of the high quality, high tech milking parlours of which which I think Readings Oracle centre is a prime example.  As I drove back down the M4 towards Swindon I started mentally ticking off the identi-kit shopping centres along the M4 corridor....

.... and found myself sincerely hoping that Swindon doesn't become another.

If the designers of the Hub avoid replicating the rubbish we see being erected in other towns, I'm hopeful it will prove to be a genuinely pleasant place to spend time in, and if that proves to be the case I think it follows that it will be a pleasant place to shop. If they don't, and it doesn't.....I predict this discussion will be happening again in about 30 years time.

For now, at least the ball seems to be rolling in the right direction.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2008, 06:36:39 PM by Geoff Reid »

Offline Alligator

  • Twitter - @Alliflowchart
  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1846
  • Gender: Male
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2008, 07:30:23 PM »
If I understood the coverage on Points West tonight, the Muse element will be worth £300m and should be signed in the next couple of weeks.  I'm not sure what part of the regeneration this relates to as the maps on the New Swindon Company website may as well have been taken from Mars for all the detail it shows.

However if the pictures rolling in the news report at the same time as they reported on this aspect are correct, I would guess that it's the part in between the new new Travelodge and the Flemming Way development and the Menzies hotel.

Not sure though so will stand corrected.

Offline Tobes

  • Regents
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4951
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2008, 08:42:15 PM »
There's something just a tad weird about all of this. Here we are on the precipice of a recession - and the building is going ahead. Who will move into these 'luxury' one, two and three bedroomed apartments across town, even when they are completed? New or first time buyers won't be able to get the mortagages - even if they're lucky enough to still have a job... As for the commercial properties, won't the owners / developers risk being clobbered by Gordon's 'empty property tax'? If thats the case, they'll have to fill them with whatever tennants they can get: It'll be the middle of a recession...! So much for the 'high quality coffee bars and cafes'!!! - and roll on the next regeneration of burger bars, charity shops and Poundlands...

Quote
Neal Dale from Modus added: “Regent Place will make a huge difference to Swindon town centre, providing the type of retail and leisure facilities that will bring in visitors from miles around.

This sounds like pure puffery! The new development brings NOTHING new - just more of the same!!! It would be realistic to state that there will be provision of new flats and a cinema, a rumoured Waitrose (!) and some cafes for the existing town centre residents - but I haven't heard a single proposition for anything that'll bring people in 'from miles around'. Not one. In fact, the only thing which might - the proposed gallery - was dropped early on, wasn't it - as being 'uneconomic'! Making a profit is the way of the world - but pretending that this is anything except a desperate money grab before the recession strips away the hopes of any last profit sounds a bit laughable to me. There's not a molecule of altruism at work here - its the government trying to spend its way out of trouble - and the developers grabbing that handout so they can complete things in time to avoid paying the business rates and/or interest on an empty college site. I might be a little more optomistic, but for the fact that the developers have demonstrated for all to see here on TS and on the public record that the wishes and wants of Swindon residents are pretty much completely unimportant to them - even to the point of dialogue. The fact that our own councillors seem to be admitting that there's little or no influence that even they have over them, its all rather dispairing (and makes their inclusion in the quotes on the press release all the more depressing)

We are being sold more than a bit of a propaganda pup - evidenced by the number of first time posters  popping out of the ether on the Adver comments section - a veritable sock-puppet muppet show, pointing people towards the newsindoncompany.com website! (as though the average swindonite even has a clue who they are, let along where they store their brand messages!)
« Last Edit: September 03, 2008, 09:36:41 PM by Tobes »
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline Mart

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5249
  • Where's my cow?
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2008, 10:45:43 PM »
Is this relevant, especially the last bit? (Nick Robinson's blog.)

Stamp duty scrapped for a half of all home purchases. Subsidised mortgage for poor new buyers. State help if you run into trouble with the payments. Will today's recipe be enough to get the housing market moving again?

This morning the Treasury are being very very careful not to make that claim. They know that the level of interest rates, the availability of mortgages, the rate of unemployment and economic confidence knocked so recently by the chancellor himself will be much more important factors in determining that.

Meanwhile the bills rack up. You may remember the government found £2.7bn from nowhere to give us a tax cut this month. Now this package is costing £600m upfront and another billion is being raided from future spending plans. One day, somebody will have to pay the bills. I hear rumours that it's the regional development agencies that have had their budgets raided.


Deals may have been signed, another may be signed but the developer will have their eyes on margins, which will now presumably be tighter than ever. So the answer would presumably be heave up a sack of shite that stays just this side of current legislation, and will probably require major refurbishment before it is a decade old. That's a business plan in everyday language that is.

Inside this sack of shite will reside nothing unique or worthy of note.

Then you have to wonder about this:

£500 million Cabot Circus is due for completion on 25th September 2008 and will provide 120 new shops, a 13-screen 'Cinema de Lux' as well as apartments, offices and public spaces in the heart of Bristol.

Mooch around the website, virtually identical, except it is a bigger and more expensive development, they get Raymond Blanc, we'll get the f*cking clown or the Colonel.

Bucking the national trend then, except Bristol, and attracting visitors from miles around, well, a couple of miles anyway, and certainly not from the west, or probably the east (Reading) I haven't got a clue what's to the South, and I certainly ain't going North.

To summarise, I think we will end with f*ck all to be proud of predominantly cos the developers never have, and never will, give a monkeys what they hurl up as long as they get their wedge, sbc is obliged to let some bugger chuck something up now they've flattened the place and the current economic climate means that what little emphasis was on the esoteric and pleasurable has now gone the drain. Assuming they work.

Churlish tw*t ain't I?


Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don’t know what your rights are, or who the person is you’re talking to. Then, on the way out, slam the door.

Offline NothingCleverOrFunny

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 35
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2008, 10:58:33 PM »
Tobes - think you might be getting confused? This development is not the one proposed for the old college site so is not the one that includes a Cinema, Waitrose etc? This development is Regent Place (to be built on the Granville St. Car Park), the one you seem to be referring to is Regent Circus.

Personally I'm really pleased to see that some progress appears to be being made and believe Regent Place will lead to a massive improvement in Swindon's retail offer. As far as I'm concerned this is good news for Swindon.

What I would like to know is some revised project timings and whether the scheme is the same as it was when it last went to planning - have corners been cut to get to this stage? Peter James seemed decidedly shifty when asked about the economic climate.

Not trying to be provocative but what would the 'opponents' of these plans like to see? We can't go back in time so now the 'white fences' are up they can't come down (or at least the demolished buildings won't respawn themselves). Coupled with the 'gloomy' economic climate, which may or may not lead us into Tobe's vision of armagedon, what would be your preferred option as the way forward? As I said, can't change what's already happened so what would you like to do from here?

Offline Mart

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5249
  • Where's my cow?
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2008, 11:26:52 PM »
If you look at the college building you can see the back end of that nice Victorian Building at the back of Vic Hill, why would a development not complement it?

Why can't people who choose this area of work as a profession come up with something original, they do after all get paid for it, not just keep churning out the same old indenti-centres, even the blurbs they write are the same. It will be Bristol on the cheap.

Idiots, pidgeons and coffee shops.

I don't expect olde worlde as envisioned by Disney, but where there is some unique identity why not magnify it instead of eradicating it. People go to Uni and allsorts to be good at this design stuff, why do they then so often fail to inspire, and why is there such a ready supply of willing customers?

If that wasn't enough to make me grumpy, I find it inconceivable that the economic climate will not compel a development somewhere near you to find new definitions for compromise.
Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don’t know what your rights are, or who the person is you’re talking to. Then, on the way out, slam the door.

Offline Tobes

  • Regents
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4951
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2008, 11:34:30 PM »
Quote
and why is there such a ready supply of willing customers?

Because developers build for today, for profit and their shareholders... The Victorians build for the future and because of a sense of civic pride... But NCOF is right, realistically what else should we expect? I just wish councils - and through them, the common man or woman - had a lot more clout to bring them into line. Building is now the preserve of central government decree.

You may well be right by the way about my confusion between Place and Circus
« Last Edit: September 04, 2008, 12:43:55 PM by Tobes »
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline concerned_of_Old_Town

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 481
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2008, 11:54:44 PM »
I think I might change my name to "confused of old town" can someone explain what exactly  is a development agreement is it for instance legal contract (bit like exchanging in house purchase) or is it just some vague promise that something may happen at same vague point in time has any money actually changed hands?  Must admit Swindon developers not inspiring me with track record of delivering ie swindon college (three years closed now) and can only blame last year on credit crunch!

 What happens next?  Does it have to go through planning permission?

 

Offline Alligator

  • Twitter - @Alliflowchart
  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1846
  • Gender: Male
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2008, 12:40:36 PM »
I think I might change my name to "confused of old town" can someone explain what exactly  is a development agreement is it for instance legal contract (bit like exchanging in house purchase) or is it just some vague promise that something may happen at same vague point in time has any money actually changed hands?  Must admit Swindon developers not inspiring me with track record of delivering ie swindon college (three years closed now) and can only blame last year on credit crunch!

 What happens next?  Does it have to go through planning permission?

 

I'm no expert in this, but I think it is limited to an agreement that the chosen developer will invest the sums mentioned in the area of Swindon.  Other than that it lacks much detail.

The developments and all buildings will still be subject to planning applications which will be submitted, along with some compulsory purchases, over the next 18 months, after that, the developers will move in and the new development is expected to be up and running by the autumn of 2012.

This agreement is a small milestone, so I'm not sure why all the fuss was made about it being signed, other than, as Tobes has eluded to, it was probably a greater challenge to do so in the current economic climate than it would have been 2-3 years ago.

As for the announcement, can anyone shed any light on why it was made in London and particularly why it was the houses of parliament, especially as parliament isn't even sitting at the moment?  it smacks of party political spin to me, afterall it's not the people in London that will be impacted by the development.

Was this anything to do with Annie 'the bandwagon dragon' Snelgrove?

If this announcement really is such a good thing for Swindon, surely announcing to a place accessible to the people of Swindon would have been more appropriate.

Offline Tobes

  • Regents
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4951
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2008, 12:59:45 PM »
Every politician wants a ride on this one: Annie, because 'her government' are propelling some cash towards her constituency (some massive good news is about the only faint hope she's got of not losing her seat); The conservatives because they've been the one trumpeting the 'vibrancy' of the regeneration and were in danger of coming unstuck because of the credit crunch; The government because they're both supporting a loyalist MP and being seen to be acting against the financial tide; The developers of course because they're saddled with interest on loans for sites which would be financially unviable unless they got a handout from someone, somewhere. 'We', the good people of Swindon, are supposed to be grateful, because when polled, we state that we want the regeneration to go ahead. Whats missed though is that we don't want it fudged - or to go ahead at any cost, regardless of cut corners, unhonoured promises or ignored concerns or issues.

We have to be very vigilant that we don't end up with 'regeneration light' - a hotch-potch of half measures and costs savings with a hideous legacy. Unfortunately, given the motives of all the politicians - national and local - who are involved, I suspect we won't necessarily be able to rely of their diligence. There well may be the odd Nelsonian eye turned to issues in the name of expediency. Lets see what transpires...
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline NothingCleverOrFunny

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 35
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2008, 01:07:56 PM »
I just read about the story on GWR's website. It's a bit better than a mere regurgitation of the press release and includes an image i've not seen before and which, to me, looks pretty fantastic. I'm pretty sure tho that this image is of Union Square, rather than Regent Place.

What it also says is that Modus hope to complete the CPO's in time to start construction by LATE 2010!? Not sure this is accurately reported but suggests we're nearly 2 whole years away from seeing any real development - could this be confirmed by someone who knows?

Maybe the thinking behind this timescale is that they hope the worst of the economic problems will be behind us by the time the centre is due to open, late 2012?

Offline Tobes

  • Regents
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4951
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2008, 01:31:36 PM »
... The GWR page makes it clear that those businesses in the 'ground zero zone' subject to CPOs are already finding trouble with the extra burden of relocating small businesses at a time of ecenomic crisis.

Will we end up with more choice and a more exciting shopping experience? Or the seried ranks of chains you'll find in every other big town? Whats actually so good for the town about this - seriously? What's going to bring people here if the shops are the same as the ones they can visit in Reading or Bristol town centres? If we lose our town centre small businesses and entrepreneurs we actually become even more of a chavopolis than we already are - because the resulting shopping experience will ONLY appeal to our OWN indiginous fast-breeding cap wearers and zirconium earinged masses.
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline Geoff Reid

  • Twitter: @Geoff_Reid
  • Active But Odd
  • Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 10109
  • Gender: Male
  • Bald as a chimps arse
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2008, 01:54:09 PM »
 
What it also says is that Modus hope to complete the CPO's in time to start construction by LATE 2010!? Not sure this is accurately reported but suggests we're nearly 2 whole years away from seeing any real development - could this be confirmed by someone who knows?

Yes.  I think that's an accurate statement. 

I'm still reading through my notes from yesterday and letting my thoughts condense naturally rather than give in to the 'urge to splurge' them as fast as possible. I hope to add them to the thread later this evening.


Offline Alligator

  • Twitter - @Alliflowchart
  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1846
  • Gender: Male
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2008, 02:03:07 PM »

What it also says is that Modus hope to complete the CPO's in time to start construction by LATE 2010!? Not sure this is accurately reported but suggests we're nearly 2 whole years away from seeing any real development - could this be confirmed by someone who knows?

Yes.  I think that's an accurate statement. 


I agree and it's consistent with what I heard, and posted above.  There will now be an 18 moth period of planning/applications and compulsory purchases, this would tak us to around March 2010, after that, I imagine tenders will go out to the building firms and demolition companies for anything in the way.  This should take us nicely towards the end of 2010 for a 2 year build to the end of 2012.

I wonder if our next MP will be present at the grand opening  ;)

Offline concerned_of_Old_Town

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 481
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2008, 04:42:49 PM »
There's quite a good news report from the lovely Kirsty of SwindonWeb featuring TalkSwindons very own Phil Young it can be found here
http://www.swindonweb.co.uk/office/?m=580&s=588&ss=0&c=3882&t=Swindon+2012%3F

(be warned bandwagon Annie can be seen in it but fortunately she was not interviewed although she was on radio swindon this morning!)

Offline Tobes

  • Regents
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4951
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2008, 05:10:31 PM »
...? hardly an incisive piece of interviewing though, was it? Its got to be seen as a PR triumph, definately. All it looks to me as otherwise though is an extension to the Brunel - but with reduced parking for the town centre over-all. Ticks the box to Gordon and gets some of our housebuilding committment out of the way - and gives us some more concrete and steel predestrian fly-overs.

Quote
800 car parking spaces
A 100 bed hotel
300 new city style apartments

Puff puff puff! 800 car parking spaces which will be used up by the 100 bedder hotel, the 300 city appartements and all of their associated staff before a single shopper has even had a look-in! So unless someone somewhere magics up a tram network or some efficient cheap public transport, people will carry on going to the out of town parks where they can PARK...

And the Regents circus development, literally 300 yards down the road ALSO includes numerous supposed eateries, a hotel, multiple shops etc etc etc. Honestly, its laughable! Who are the 200+ additional holiday-makers wanting to come and enjoy our souless town?!

I want to buy some shares in Poundland and the 99p shop - they're going to be moving into some expensive new retail properties very soon...
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline Alex

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 993
  • Gender: Female
    • Alex Coppock-Bunce Hypnotherapy & Counselling
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2008, 06:13:24 PM »
... The GWR page makes it clear that those businesses in the 'ground zero zone' subject to CPOs are already finding trouble with the extra burden of relocating small businesses at a time of ecenomic crisis.

Will we end up with more choice and a more exciting shopping experience? Or the seried ranks of chains you'll find in every other big town? Whats actually so good for the town about this - seriously? What's going to bring people here if the shops are the same as the ones they can visit in Reading or Bristol town centres? If we lose our town centre small businesses and entrepreneurs we actually become even more of a chavopolis than we already are - because the resulting shopping experience will ONLY appeal to our OWN indiginous fast-breeding cap wearers and zirconium earinged masses.

A resounding- "no" from this quarter-but then, having said that- it's pretty much the same around the World- any city is filled with the same shops and even when they appear different- the stuff inside is allimported from the same sources- so unless someone is going to make it affordable for local people to create local artifacts to sell- it's not likely to change- sadly. The only thing is- at least the atmosphere and architecture in these other cities is all more desireable than it is here- where their heritage is respected not destroyed.

I did note with fascination that the image portrayed in the Adver's double spread of what it will all look like didn't feature a single chav, drunk, bully, pi**head or bike riding twonk - doesn't that go against the  Advertising Standards Authority's guidelines? Or maybe there's going to be something which deters that behaviour incorporated into the plan- wonder what they have in mind? Can't be culture- seemingly no budget for that- so what is it? ???

Offline NothingCleverOrFunny

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 35
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2008, 06:30:50 PM »
Tobes - You’re obviously entitled to think whatever you like about Regent Place, Regent Circus, the NSC, the Regeneration etc and it’s good for these boards to have some healthy debate going on. I even agree with some of the things you say and it’s important to have different views which will hopefully encourage more thought from the ‘powers that be’ and hence better developments. However, and again I’m really not trying to be provocative, it seems 99% of your posts which I’ve read are critical of something or other and take the dimmest possible view of the future.

I know I asked this same question yesterday, to which you did respond, but I’m still not really sure what where you would like to go from here with the ‘regeneration’. What specifics would you like to see? If you don’t like the idea of Steel and glass, what would you like? If you don’t think there will be enough retailer demand to occupy the shops, don’t think tourists will want to use the hotels, don’t think people will buy the flats and don’t want people to use the bars / restaurants, what’s left that you would like? Why would a developer want to build an art gallery or museum if there’s no commercial viability of such schemes? In fact why should a developer do this? Unless (by magic or a huge hike in Council Tax) huge pots of public money become available, funds from private finance must be used and the providers of that public must be able to make a return on their investment. If they don’t, they won’t invest. If they don’t invest, nothing will change. It’s the elected councils job to try and get the best deal for Swindon, and we have no choice but to trust, in this economic climate, that this deal is the best available. If we don’t think we have got the best deal, we don’t vote for those councillors again and in the meantime, lobby them to get the best possible scheme – as you are doing with regards the College development. If you think you could do a better job of being a councillor, maybe you should stand (I’m sure a lot of people would vote for you!).

Regarding car parking. I won’t claim to know whether this scheme will result in a net gain or loss of parking spaces and realise that the figures can be ‘spun’ in favour of the developers. However, the land available is finite so how can the number of spaces be increased without having an adverse effect on the cost of the project? If more land was used for car parks, less would be available for shops, or whatever it is that you would like (unless you want a huge car park?  ;D). If more money was spent on car parks, less would be available for quality building materials – whatever they may be.

Again, I’m asking out of genuine interest. I really do like the proposed schemes. Maybe that’s because I’m naïve or a sucker for the current ‘architectural’ fad? Maybe I’ll hate the design in years to come? For the time being however, I’d love to see Regent Place materialise, regardless of whether or not it’s harder to park or there are empty flats (is it not just the developer that loses out there?). Finally (at last you cry), why wouldn’t ‘higher end’ retailers come to Swindon? I for one want more choice than what we have, and wouldn’t vast numbers of other people want the same? I’m sure the demand is there so it’s just the supply we need.

The end!

Offline Tobes

  • Regents
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4951
Re: Talkswindon Reports £200 million Swindon Regeneration Deal Signed
« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2008, 07:24:11 PM »
Quote
However, and again I’m really not trying to be provocative, it seems 99% of your posts which I’ve read are critical of something or other and take the dimmest possible view of the future.

I confess - its an easy sport. But then again, the weight of painfully bloody obvious history is behind what I'm saying as a clear precedent: hense my confidence (and depression). Did you hit those bbc links which were posted up on this board a while back, listing the puff generated by the then developers and proponents of the current decayed mess we've currently got? Fine, you're right to slap me back for being a miserabilist BUT (and thats a 72point BUT) wouldn't it be genuinely exciting to hear someone propose a SOLUTION rather than just another exercise in knocking down last century's ersatz crap to replace it with its *slightly* more modern equivalent?

No concrete and steel? We live in a town made out of brick! As for the 'what I think' aspects - what do you think? If the only counter to my gloomy view is for people to simply say 'stop being gloomy' - then we're definatly going to hell in a handbasket, as its hardly a convincing counter argument, is it??? All we need to do is remember the motivations behind the key decision makers on these projects - AND THEY'RE ONES OF SHORT TERM POLITICAL OR FINANCIAL EXPEDIENCE in every single case. If they were honest enough to present what they were doing as a purely financial excercise making themselves and their shareholders rich (or if a councilor, at least being able to say 'I helped build that' - a boast for the short term at least, before the thing peels, rusts or lies empty and tagged) - then at least I might rouse a begrudging ambivalence. But reading the press releases and the razzmatazz is vomit enducing because we all know how removed from the reality it all really is. This IS NOT about whats good for Swindon. This is about whats good for certain peoples political reputations and certain people's wallets.

I'm also grumpy because my communities quality of live will suffer directly as a cause of this endless march to knock down before replacing with jury built identikit homogenous boxes.

Quote
It’s the elected councils job to try and get the best deal for Swindon, and we have no choice but to trust,

...Oh, well thats alright then... (I take it you actually have met some of our councillors?!) It was councillors who thought it was an excellent idea to locate every chav-happy bar together into one no-go disaster zone of drunken violence wasn't it? I expect the populace trusted their elected representatives to make the right planning decision there too. Like we trust them to save the Mechanics - or to avoid building a whacking great dvelopment right next to Coate Water.

Quote
why wouldn’t ‘higher end’ retailers come to Swindon?

Because the town centre is dominated by low class lager bars and the people who frequent them 24/7- If you want to attract 'higher end' retailers, you'll need to attract 'higher end' customers: A - this is Swindon, B - they can go elsewhere and get exactly the same, probably nearer to where they live, C - 'higher end' customers drive to where they are going if they don't already live there - they don't stand amongst the phlegm at a swindon bus stop with EXACTLY the right change so they can climb aboard a stinking bus with tag etched windows.

Quote
I for one want more choice than what we have

Knocking down the last vestigaes of independent retail in the town centre GIVES US LESS CHOICE.

Quote
I’m sure the demand is there so it’s just the supply we need.

Are you???!! The demand is demonstrably there for 'cap and sock' pseudo sports stores, cheap jewellry and watches, mobile phones, games and video stores, junk food outlets and the general melange. They reflect the people who come into the town centre. To change the shops long term, you need to change the people long term. If you don't, simply hoping that a few stores setting up will attract them when they've no where to park is niaive. Regardless of which ever 'big' luxury stores sign up to start with, I guarantee within five years, things will have reverted back to the usual Poundland, Top Shop, Burger King et al.

My mantra would be refurbish, restore, repair, revitalise - and do it in respect and harmony with what already exists... Not 'Knock down and replace'. Slash and burn policies only EVER suit the short term of whatever issue they are applied to.
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'