A major transformation of central Swindon, including re-building Fleming Way to end the town centre's ‘north-south divide’, was announced today.
The work, part of a larger £350m town centre regeneration project, aims to extend the central area and make it more vibrant and easier for people to move between work, retail and social areas.
Key to this is the lowering the elevated section of Fleming Way to its original level – which will mean the underpass linking the Tri-Centre offices and bus station with The Parade will disappear – as well as building a ‘linear park’ along its route.
This will connect the business district and the station to the north with the retailers and eating/dining facilities in the heart of the shopping area.
The new-look Fleming Way, expected to re-open in 2016, will then be closed to traffic other pedestrians, buses and cyclists.
A new bus exchange is also planned at the road’s western end – the existing bus station will be re-developed as part of the new Kimmerfields central business district.
Ian Piper, chief executive of Forward Swindon, which is leading the regeneration programme on behalf of Swindon Borough Council, said: “The town centre is split in two by Fleming Way, making access to shopping and social facilities difficult for workers and visitors.
“By removing this physical barrier, we will make Swindon town centre a more vibrant and attractive place to work and to visit.”
The town centre, he said, would become a single, accessible setting with landscaping and improved amenities.
Swindon Borough Council cabinet member for economy, regeneration and culture, Garry Perkins, added: “Thriving town centres boost the local economy and increase the region’s prosperity. This project will help to realise our vision for Swindon as an attractive place to live and work in today’s 21st century world.”
Doug Finlay of Muse, the developers undertaking the regeneration programme, said: “Creating an easily accessible, vibrant town centre is a vital part of Swindon’s future prosperity. Joining the two halves of the town centre, while at the same time extending the central business district, will be a major step towards the realisation of that goal.”
Preparatory work is now beginning to enable the re-development of Fleming Way. Over the next two years, Forward Swindon will also be undertaking a series of face-to-face meetings with businesses and other organisations who are likely to be affected. Closer to the start of works, an information and awareness campaign will be developed to ensure that everyone has the information they need in good time.