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Feedback positive on building’s development
PLANS to regenerate the iconic Locarno buildings in Old Town are likely to take a significant step forward on November 12.
The project will go before the planning committee at Swindon Council in less than two weeks, when the feedback received regarding the application’s design brief will be presented.
Coun Garry Perkins (Con, Shaw) described it as a significant step forward in the timeline of the £27m regeneration, as it would lead to costs finally being drawn up.
The cabinet member for economy, regeneration and culture also said he was confident the plans would come through their latest check without any serious opposition He said: “I understand the majority of feedback has been very positive and there aren’t going to be any showstoppers in the committee meeting.
“Everybody wants the Locarno site to be developed as soon as possible. I can’t see it hitting any problems at this point.
“Detailed plans and detailed costings will be drawn up after November 12. There is no point building a development which is financially unviable. We want a quality development within the costs allowed.
“It’s easy to put up cheap buildings, but we want quality in Old Town to match the quality which is already there.”
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 Swindon Corn Exchange Ltd (SCE), sets out a design framework including key issues of heritage, urban design, public realm, vehicular access and car parking.
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.
Leader of Swindon Council, David Renard, said public response has been positive. “People are keen for developers to get going as soon as possible,” said Coun Renard.
Colin Doubleday, chairman of Pipers Area Residents’ Association, thought the design was 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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