Swindon town centre regeneration projects secure £11M in government funds

By Nick Batten on 27 January, 2022

Two infrastructure projects in Swindon have been awarded a total of £11 million through the Government’s Towns Fund.

The first was for Kimmerfields, a major brownfield site in Swindon town centre, which is now a step closer to being redeveloped after the Government approved £6m in infrastructure funding.

The site, which connects the town’s railway station with the wider town centre, will undergo a radical transformation over the next decade with it set to deliver 100,000 sq ft of high-quality office space, up to 450 homes and a Cultural Quarter featuring a new theatre, media arts centre and art pavilion.

The latest funding announcement is part of over £100M of Swindon Borough Council-led investment in town centre projects over the next four years, the majority of which has been secured though successful funding bids to central government.

Swindon Towns Fund Board, of which the Council is a member, was told the news about the successful funding bid at a meeting in December. Kimmerfields is one of six projects identified by the Board, which will bid for a share of £19.5m from the Government’s Towns Fund.

The redevelopment of the 20-acre Kimmerfields site was made possible after the Council acquired the land in March last year and the regeneration is already underway with the construction of Zurich’s new £38m offices. Work to create a new bus interchange on the adjacent Fleming Way is also set to begin next year.

A total of £16.5m will be invested in a new access road and roundabout from Corporation Street, while the funding will also enable new estate roads, landscaping and improvements to the public realm and green space.

Utilities infrastructure including drainage, electricity, and telecoms will also be installed, de-risking any future investment.

Of the £16.5m being spent on the Kimmerfields project, £9.5m is being provided by the Council with a further £1m having already been secured from the Government.

Economic analysis shows that the Kimmerfields development is likely to generate an additional £44m of economic benefit over the next 25 years to Swindon’s local economy.

The redeveloped site will complement the wider regeneration of the town centre by increasing land values in the local area, which will, in turn, encourage further investment by the private sector.

By opening up offices, residential and cultural spaces it will also increase footfall, and subsequent spending throughout the daytime and into the evening.

Kimmerfields will be developed in three phases, with the first phase set to get underway next year with the creation of a new roundabout off Corporation Street and improvements to the roads leading into the development to enable access to the new Zurich offices. Preparatory work also took place last summer to decontaminate and clear the site.

Richard Newland, Chairman of the Swindon Towns Fund Board, said, “The Government has demonstrated its confidence in Swindon by approving this £6m funding bid for the Kimmerfields site and I am delighted as the Towns Fund Board submitted a really robust business case.

“The money we have secured from the Government, together with the funding provided by the Council, means we can put all the utility pipes and services in the ground, carry out the landscaping work, build the access roads, and make it as attractive as possible for the private sector to invest.

“Much of the enabling work will go unseen by the public, but it will play a key role in kick-starting regeneration in this part of town.”

Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said, “The Kimmerfields site has sat empty for a number of years because it hasn’t been financially viable for the private sector to develop it. Now, thanks to the Council acquiring all the various parcels of land, we are now in a position to see this brownfield site redeveloped.

“Hundreds of new homes, brand new offices and a new theatre and cultural facilities will not only increase land values in the town centre to encourage future private investment, it will also increase the number of people visiting the town centre, night and day, and that will have a hugely positive knock-on effect for the rest of the town centre.”

The Kimmerfields announcement was followed by news that the Towns Fund would be giving Brunel’s historic Carriage Works a major boost in the shape of £5m in funding to help bring an important part of the town’s railway heritage back to life.

Swindon’s Towns Fund Board, of which the Council is a member, has identified six projects, which will bid for a share of £19.5m from the Government’s Towns Fund.

This latest £5m will bring four units of Brunel’s Grade II-listed former Carriage Works, which falls within the newly-designated Heritage Action Zone, back into viable use.

The Carriage Works, Swindon

The building, located on London Street opposite the Mechanics’ Institute, has been partly restored as a business incubation centre and Cultural Heritage Institute for the Royal Agricultural University, but much of it has lain empty as it was too costly to be brought forward through private sector investment.

The Towns Fund investment will expand on the regeneration works to date to refurbish units 8, 10, 12, and 13 in the West Shed to create approximately 1,951 sq m of new office space for creative and digital SMEs, including the necessary structural works.

It will open up a vacant heritage asset for re-use as a commercial premises, which it is estimated, will generate an additional £23.9m of economic benefit over the next 25 years to Swindon’s local economy. The units will also generate a rental return for the Council.

Richard, explained, “I was fortunate enough to be given a tour of the Carriage Works recently and it was fantastic to see the work that has already been done to sympathetically bring an important local landmark back into modern use, while maintaining the external Victorian character of the building.

“This latest funding from the Government will help us deliver more of the same and allow businesses of the future to connect with the town’s rich railway heritage.

“I’d like to thank all the members of the Towns Fund Board for their work in scrutinising the business cases for both the Carriage Works and Kimmerfields projects, which have secured £11m to benefit the town centre’s regeneration.”

David added, “It is really wonderful news that the Government has recognised Swindon’s potential by awarding us this money.

“By bringing the four Carriage Works units back into use we are not only preserving and enhancing an important heritage building, but also creating an inclusive shared business environment for creative and digital SMEs, which is a flagship component of Swindon’s Heritage Action Zone.”

Pictured: (Top of Page) The Kimmerfields site in Swindon