Swindon Borough Council will discuss
plans for a new Cultural Quarter in the town at a meeting being held this week
(Wednesday 21st October).
The proposals seek to enhance the
cultural experience in Swindon whilst acting as a catalyst to increase the
number of visitors to the town centre.
Members of Swindon Borough Council’s
Cabinet will discuss a report which proposes
to relocate the Wyvern Theatre and build the Cultural Quarter on the derelict
The 1960s theatre is reaching the end
of its life; engineering reports highlight that there is a need for over £20M
Over the past 12 months, the Council
has been working closely with partners in Swindon’s arts, cultural and business
sectors to develop a plan to help revitalise the town centre and boost the
town’s cultural offering.
Two sites were considered: the current
one at Princes Street, with the existing Wyvern Theatre, former town hall and
Central Library at its core; and the Kimmerfields site.
Following analysis of both, a preferred
option for development at Kimmerfields was identified. The site has significant
benefits, with much of it already cleared and ready for construction. It
occupies a central location close to the railway station and opposite Debenhams,
providing an opportunity to spearhead town centre regeneration.
Kimmerfields will also be home to the
new flagship Zurich office, the first major office development in Swindon town
centre for 20 years.
The plans for the Cultural Quarter, which
is expected to cost in the region of £80M, are expected to come to fruition
over the next decade. They include a new theatre, dance centre, digital media
and arts hub, and new facilities to display Swindon’s nationally-significant
An economic impact assessment has
concluded that the Cultural Quarter could add more than £35M a year to
Swindon’s economy and create 1,200 jobs.
Councillor Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough
Council’s Cabinet Member for the Town Centre, Culture and Heritage, said, “When
I took over as cabinet member, I made it clear to everyone that there needed to
be a focus on fewer, more impactful projects that will make a visible
difference to Swindon, and that change doesn’t happen overnight.
“The pieces of the jigsaw are slowly
fitting together, with cranes and diggers now on site for the first new office
development in 20 years, imminent decisions for £50M of funding bids for the
town centre, a refurbished Health Hydro, completion of the fantastic Carriage
Works regeneration, new Hampton by Hilton and Premier Inn hotels and much more.
Now is the time to present plans for a new Cultural Quarter and build on
Swindon’s momentum to ensure that, by 2030, we will see a very different town
“Cabinet’s ambition is to see the
building of a new Wyvern Theatre with capacity doubled to 1,200 seats, which
will attract the best national and regional shows and performers for residents
to enjoy. We also want to deliver a new museum and art gallery that proudly
displays Swindon’s nationally recognised collection of artefacts and exhibits.
“If approved by Cabinet, the next six
months will see focus placed on writing the financial business case and
investment prospectus, for the £80M needed to bring the Culture Quarter to
life. This is a fantastic opportunity for Swindon and we must grasp it with
Paddy Bradley, CEO of the Swindon and
Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership which has helped to develop the
proposals, said, “This is an exciting project for Swindon, which is rich in
both arts and culture. Swindon has always had a fantastic cultural offering,
from its amazing art and museum collections, through to its nationally
recognised dance and theatre companies and vibrant music scene.
“The choice of the Kimmerfields site
for this development is an inspired one, linking the railway station transport
hub with the town centre through a cultural quarter buzzing with people. The
SWLEP is delighted to help cement the future of Swindon’s cultural sector
allowing it to expand and thrive.”