Swindon Borough Council’s application for £25m in funding from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund was among the bids to make it through to the next assessment phase. More than 300 bids from across the country were submitted for a slice of the £675m funding available.
The Government spent several months going through the many funding applications and Swindon’s proposal to transform Fleming Way and the bus station was chosen as one of those which best demonstrates how to tackle the challenge of the changing High Street.
The Council will now receive a grant of up to £150,000 to complete the business case and details to make the bid ‘shovel ready’ so work can start in 2020.
The proposed improvements include a green spine, new public space and dramatically improved pedestrian and cycle routes being created in the town centre with the current underpass at Fleming Way being removed.
The scheme would build on the recent improvements at nearby Wellington Street by creating an attractive route from the train station into the town centre, encouraging further investment in the area.
All national and local bus services would be incorporated along Fleming Way, improving the experience of bus users and pedestrians, while the new road layout would complete the link between the Eastern and Western Flyer cycle routes.
The new bus facility, which is an integral part of the mixed use Kimmerfields regeneration site, would free up the area which houses the current bus station increasing the size of the site by 20 per cent and increasing the value of the development.
It also supports the vision for the town centre, which states that ‘By 2030, Swindon town centre will be the beating heart of the local community. A place to set up home and business, where people stay longer, spend more and keep coming back’.
Councillor Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for the Town Centre, said: “The sun is out, summer is here and we have great news for Swindon. To be shortlisted when we were up against so many bids from across the country demonstrates the quality, and strength, of our work.
“This is a big achievement, but it is important to manage expectations because there is still work to do before Swindon receives a government cheque for £25m and we can finally transform Fleming way and our aging 1960s bus station.
“We are working hard to create an environment where business, and the Government, invest in Swindon. Our town centre is a large complex jigsaw where, piece by piece, project by project, we are slowly making progress.
“Both the new Zurich offices and the North Star ski slope will be open in just a few years’ time. Last month the Heritage Action Zone was launched with Historic England, and I have made two key commitments, which are visible progress on restoring the Mechanics by 2024, and improving the five-minute walk between the Outlet, Town Centre and North Star. The refurbishment of Wellington Street opposite the train station has finished. And the owners of the Brunel Centre will publish their exciting plans for Swindon later this month.
“Fleming way and our tired, aging bus station are an important piece of the puzzle that will help local residents, and businesses, see the picture. We must get this right.”
The new bus facility will take three years to complete with buses using a temporary facility next to the Wyvern Theatre during construction.