Swindon Borough Council is investing £2m in phase one of the town’s Carriage Works, off London Street, which were part of Brunel’s Great Western Works and once the largest carriage works in the country.
It is one of only eight projects, plans and policies vying for the South West’s top planning award.
One of several town centre projects to rejuvenate Swindon town centre, the Carriage Works is a unique, historic mixed-use development opportunity, within walking distance of Swindon station.
Unit 3, which opened its doors in June, is operating as a business incubation hub and is being marketed as ‘Workshed’ under the management of The Enterprise Network (TEN).
Work to refurbish Unit 5, which will complete phase one of the redevelopment, is almost complete and will provide an additional 100 work spaces.
The Council’s Carriage Works is a Grade II listed building and extensive work has taken place with a variety of Council experts in planning, heritage and building control to retain, enhance and complement the existing features of the building.
In some instances materials that were salvageable have been ‘upcycled’ to produce new features from old. The prime example is the timber floor in part of the existing office area, which was used to make two enormous doors.
Councillor Garry Perkins, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for the Town Centre, said: “The transformation of the Carriage Works is the culmination of extensive work behind the scenes by a number of Council officers, so to be shortlisted for such a prestigious award is a big pat on the back for their efforts.
“What makes this project so special is that we have turned an important part of the town’s railway heritage into a space that can be used by the digital and technology businesses of today while retaining the character of the old building, which is no mean feat.
“We are up against some tough competition, but I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed we can refer to the ‘award-winning’ Carriage Works by the end of the year.”
Councillor Gary Sumner, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, said: “To be shortlisted for an RTPI award is quite an achievement because only the very best projects, plans and policies make it this far. This is the crème de le crème of planning excellence in the region and I am delighted that our planning and heritage teams have once again been recognised by the RTPI as they were for The Old Railway Quarter and Tadpole Garden Village schemes last year.”
The next phase of the Carriage Works project, which is being delivered by Forward Swindon Ltd on behalf of the Council, will see the remainder of the West Shed, Units 7, 9 and 11, being redeveloped to create modern work spaces within a ‘campus’ environment. Work is likely to start early next year, subject to planning approval.
The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) announced plans at the end of last year to set up a new Cultural Heritage Institute at the Carriage Works based in Unit 11 and the first courses are anticipated to start from September next year.
Suzanne D’Arcy Chair of RTPI South West said: “The shortlisted entries reflect the really high standards and achievements of the planning profession throughout the South West. Given the high calibre of entries this year, the judges will no doubt find it difficult to pick an overall winner.”
The RTPI represents 25,000 planning professionals worldwide and promotes spatial planning, shapes policy and raises professional standards. The Awards for Planning Excellence have been run by the RTPI South West for over 30 years to recognise planning excellence.