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Residents want canal back in town centre masterplan
THE GRAND plan for an overhaul of Swindon town centre could be set to get its own makeover – after consulted residents said they wanted the idea of a canal reinstated.
The majority of about 100 respondents to Forward Swindon’s Masterplan consultation claimed they wanted to see the canal running through the pedestrianised town centre area, while much of the rest of the plan remains unchanged.
The firm have been charged by Swindon Council with regenerating the town, and unveiled its view of the shape of things to come in around 10 to 15 years time, back in September at the Central Library, for public scrutiny.
It enlisted the help of town planners Allies and Morrison Urban Practitioners, the architects behind the much-lauded Olympic Park, in Stratford, London, and the proposals include a new performing arts centre, art gallery and a two-way Commercial Road.
The masterplan includes bringing the canal back into the town through North Star as far as a basin adjacent to Station Road but the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust said, crucially, it omits linking this section to the restored canal at Westleaze.
Forward Swindon’s chief executive Ian Piper said all responses from the public had now been analysed and a revised draft was going to be put before the cross-party group of councillors before it goes to full council, potentially in April.
He said: “What is happening at the moment is we have reviewed the consultation responses, which took a little bit longer that we anticipated, and are putting them together to show councillors.
“There was quite a lot of detail in some of the responses, including one that went through the proposal almost line by line, and so we wanted to make sure we considered all of them.
“The level of responses for a consultation of this type was good and the majority of it was positive.
“We had about 80 respondents to the questionnaire and another 15 to 20 letters from organisations.
“We have pencilled in for full council in April and will show councillors the changed draft plan.
“We will also put it to them about what they would like to do about the canal.
“We had a lot of comments on the canal, many supporting it being reinstated on the plans. We will need to talk to members about that as it was not shown on the draft plan.”