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£27m Locarno plan gets ‘just one shot’
8:50am Friday 27th September 2013 in News
DEVELOPERS say they will only get one shot at bringing the £27m regeneration of the iconic Locarno buildings into reality.
The project has been widely praised by the community during an eight-week consultation, but the developers have said this is likely to be their sole attempt as it has cost about half a million pounds just to prepare the planning application.
It is believed the reason the costs are so high is because the plans have to include detailed architectural handling of the buildings and spaces must be of the highest quality.
This is why everything has to be in place before the planning application goes before Swindon Council’s planning committee at the start of 2014. If the applicant is successful, then the developer, Swindon Corn Exchange Ltd (SCE), could begin work later in the year.
Proposals for the Old Town revamp include three branded restaurants, an 82-room hotel, 49 new homes and other facilities.
Since July 30 proposals for the scheme’s brief were sent out for the public to voice their views.
The brief, drawn up by Swindon Council, Forward Swindon and SCE, sets out a design framework including key issues of heritage, urban design, public realm, vehicular access and car parking.
“We only get one go at this,” said Chris Hitchings, of Forward Swindon. “There is a lot of work involved in preparing the application and we have to make sure everything is in place before it goes before the planning committee.
“It is an iconic building in the heart of Old Town and it will require a lot of care to restore it.”
Under the proposals the grade II-listed Locarno buildings will be refurbished and new buildings will create three restaurants and a glass-covered entertainments hall, a basement spa and gym, a café, a shop, a hotel, and homes.
Colin Doubleday, chairman of Pipers Area Residents’ Association, thought the design was really good.
He said: “The developer has invested time and money to work with Forward Swindon and involve the community.”
“It’s ideal for Old Town,” said Myra Hart-Thorn, 87, of Old Town. “It will keep that building, which has so much history, alive.”
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