The text of Back Garden’s response to Forward Swindon and the draft Swindon Master Plan 2012.
Back Garden is a residents group, part of Swindon Council’s ‘Connecting People–Connecting Places’ initiative. The group covers the central portion of Eastcott Ward.
We welcome the strategic objective of making Swindon a regional creative hub that will help transform its current utilitarian image into one that attracts investment, and tourism. At a local level the emphasis on linking Old and New Town’s recreational and cultural facilities via Victoria Road rather than the narrow streets on Old Town Hill is to be applauded.
We do have questions and suggestions over details in the plan regarding:
- the broad tone of road and traffic plans;
- changes to the Museum and Art Gallery;
- the Stage Coach bus depot site and King William Street school; and
- a fixation with replacing open space with housing.
The traffic plans do not appear to have taken the wider context of traffic in and around the town centre into account. We have concerns over how the suggested two–way traffic on Commercial Road would interact with the new College Site development and the existing Crombey Street through route. How does maintaining Victoria Road as a road with motor traffic support its proposed residential development, other than encouraging more multiple–occupancy?The current Art Galley has a world class collection that deserves greater visibility. Expansion on the current site would still leave the Gallery cramped and do nothing to enhance the proposed cultural quarter around the Wyvern and Central Library. We suggest the Gallery should be moved into the attractive and culturally significant Technical Schools building at the bottom of Victoria Road.
Stage Coach’s depot on Eastcott Road offers a rare opportunity for large–scale development in Eastcott. The plan fails to grasp this by transforming it into a miscellany of smaller developments. We recommend that King William Street School, an existing centre of excellence be considered as a centre-piece of development to create a community green space, utilised by the school and residents after hours, whilst also providing space for extra class room accommodation.
Throughout the Master Plan there appears to be a fixation for inserting low density housing into open spaces. As well as the inappropriate housing on the Stage Coach site, the suggestion of adding housing south of Cross Street will add to existing traffic problems both on the street and the existing ‘rat–runs’ between Bath Road and Victoria Road.
Back Garden recommends that the residents are offered an opportunity to discuss the Plan with Forward Swindon and is willing to host a public meeting for this purpose.
4 October 2012