The changing face of our town centre

Regent Circus

Aspen House

First published in News Swindon Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , @Michael_Benke

WHILE one building comes up, another is coming down as the face of the town centre changes forever.

The Regent Circus leisure development, which it is hoped will breathe new life into the top end of town, is entering its final stages of construction.

Over the road, the derelict Aspen House is being torn down brick by brick to clear space for new development.

It is hoped both will help to improve the look of the area while bringing in more customers for the businesses there.

Built on the site of the former Swindon College, Regent Circus will see a new supermarket, cinema and host of restaurants, including Nando’s, Ask, Coal and Prezzo.

The supermarket will be a new Morrisons, bringing in 180 new jobs, and the company has now begun fitting out the shop.

James Digby, of Ashfield Land, which owns the site, said: “Things are progressing very well and everything should be open by the end this year or the new year.

“The building for Morrisons is now complete and they have moved in and are starting to fit it out.

“We are hoping to have the whole building completed by the end of the summer so we can hand everything over for the tenants to fit all the units out.”

There are still two units for restaurants empty but James is confident the whole complex will be full when the doors are opened.

He said: “We have finalised an agreement on one unit and are in the process of concluding that, while we are about to accept an offer on another.

“Everything will be full when we come to open.”

Progress is also moving forward with Aspen House, which used to house the register office, with diggers having already pulled down a significant portion of building.

Because Aspen House is so close to other buildings, care has to be taken with the demolition process.

It is expected to be completed some time in the autumn.

The council bought the vacant 12-storey building in Temple Street last year, with the aim of regenerating that area of the town centre.

Due to the poor condition of building it was decided to knock it down.

In the short term the land will be open space but the council is in negotiations with a private developer about the its future.

A council spokesman said: “A lot of work has been going on to dismantle and remove the interior of the building, but it will start to shrink in height from the end of June onwards. The plan is to have it all cleared away by mid-November.”

Comments (16)

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6:00am Mon 23 Jun 14

sn5 says...

Looking good as I go past it, really looking forward to it opening later in the year.
It's much improved the top of town along with the library
Looking good as I go past it, really looking forward to it opening later in the year. It's much improved the top of town along with the library sn5
  • Score: 17

6:23am Mon 23 Jun 14

EastleazeRed says...

Its about time ! Town centre is full of chavs , £ shops , and tacky pubs .
Its about time ! Town centre is full of chavs , £ shops , and tacky pubs . EastleazeRed
  • Score: 9

7:51am Mon 23 Jun 14

Sandor Clegane says...

Six months ago, James Digby said that this development would open in October this year. Now he's saying it 'should be open by the end this year or the new year'. How can he be so vague about a major project that was due to open four months from now?
Six months ago, James Digby said that this development would open in October this year. Now he's saying it 'should be open by the end this year or the new year'. How can he be so vague about a major project that was due to open four months from now? Sandor Clegane
  • Score: 4

8:21am Mon 23 Jun 14

house on the hill says...

EastleazeRed wrote:
Its about time ! Town centre is full of chavs , £ shops , and tacky pubs .
Well this will help two of the three things you don't like but it won't change the first one (and you missed out charity shops)! Fingers crossed when it does finally open which clearly will be way off schedule, that it is a much needed improvement to the town.
[quote][p][bold]EastleazeRed[/bold] wrote: Its about time ! Town centre is full of chavs , £ shops , and tacky pubs .[/p][/quote]Well this will help two of the three things you don't like but it won't change the first one (and you missed out charity shops)! Fingers crossed when it does finally open which clearly will be way off schedule, that it is a much needed improvement to the town. house on the hill
  • Score: 8

8:37am Mon 23 Jun 14

Synergie says...

This was never going to be a fast build. Boring machines are fascinating things. They can provide hours of entertainment for 5 workmen lol.
This was never going to be a fast build. Boring machines are fascinating things. They can provide hours of entertainment for 5 workmen lol. Synergie
  • Score: 2

9:09am Mon 23 Jun 14

MrAngry says...

house on the hill wrote:
EastleazeRed wrote:
Its about time ! Town centre is full of chavs , £ shops , and tacky pubs .
Well this will help two of the three things you don't like but it won't change the first one (and you missed out charity shops)! Fingers crossed when it does finally open which clearly will be way off schedule, that it is a much needed improvement to the town.
and betting shops ..... and pawn brokers.
[quote][p][bold]house on the hill[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]EastleazeRed[/bold] wrote: Its about time ! Town centre is full of chavs , £ shops , and tacky pubs .[/p][/quote]Well this will help two of the three things you don't like but it won't change the first one (and you missed out charity shops)! Fingers crossed when it does finally open which clearly will be way off schedule, that it is a much needed improvement to the town.[/p][/quote]and betting shops ..... and pawn brokers. MrAngry
  • Score: 7

9:57am Mon 23 Jun 14

Ollie Dognacky says...

Didn't Garry Perkins say it was going to be a brick structure, in keeping with the local buildings?
🙊 just asking
👎-78
Didn't Garry Perkins say it was going to be a brick structure, in keeping with the local buildings? 🙊 just asking 👎-78 Ollie Dognacky
  • Score: -5

11:09am Mon 23 Jun 14

nobody says...

Shame about the pedestrian crossings, as now pedestrians have to rely on drivers to stop for them in order to cross the road.
Also restricting two lanes from Commercial Rd. into one lane, for about 20 metres and then back to three seems ill thought out.
Shame about the pedestrian crossings, as now pedestrians have to rely on drivers to stop for them in order to cross the road. Also restricting two lanes from Commercial Rd. into one lane, for about 20 metres and then back to three seems ill thought out. nobody
  • Score: -1

4:00pm Mon 23 Jun 14

GrumpyLocal says...

The new road layout does seem to be an accident waiting to happen. Currently driving from Victoria Road is appalling. Historically the 2 lanes from Vic Rd allowed drivers to use either to get to Princess St. Without changing signage this is no longer possible as there is only 1 lane passing in front of Rudi's & Meca, forcing drivers to force their way in to the right hand lane or drive down Crombie St & all the way back up Commercial Rd. Secondly there appears to be no road markings telling drivers who has right of way where the road meets Commercial Rd. Again historically the traffic driving around and down towards Princess St have had priority yet the other day 2 cars drove straight at me on the bike as I followed the course of the road, nearly knocking me off in the process. As I looked back I realised that there is nothing telling anyone to give way.
In addition to these problems the carriageway from Commercial Rd has been reduced to one lane, adding to congestion & there are no traffic lights to allow pedestrians to cross safely..
The development is looking great but the road layout around it is an absolute joke waiting to kill someone.
The new road layout does seem to be an accident waiting to happen. Currently driving from Victoria Road is appalling. Historically the 2 lanes from Vic Rd allowed drivers to use either to get to Princess St. Without changing signage this is no longer possible as there is only 1 lane passing in front of Rudi's & Meca, forcing drivers to force their way in to the right hand lane or drive down Crombie St & all the way back up Commercial Rd. Secondly there appears to be no road markings telling drivers who has right of way where the road meets Commercial Rd. Again historically the traffic driving around and down towards Princess St have had priority yet the other day 2 cars drove straight at me on the bike as I followed the course of the road, nearly knocking me off in the process. As I looked back I realised that there is nothing telling anyone to give way. In addition to these problems the carriageway from Commercial Rd has been reduced to one lane, adding to congestion & there are no traffic lights to allow pedestrians to cross safely.. The development is looking great but the road layout around it is an absolute joke waiting to kill someone. GrumpyLocal
  • Score: 4

4:04pm Mon 23 Jun 14

GrumpyLocal says...

nobody wrote:
Shame about the pedestrian crossings, as now pedestrians have to rely on drivers to stop for them in order to cross the road.
Also restricting two lanes from Commercial Rd. into one lane, for about 20 metres and then back to three seems ill thought out.
Having three lanes has been a joke since they put a bus lane on Princess St. If they had any sense (which the council/road planners rarely do) they would reduce the road to 2 lanes, 1 to go down Princess St & the other to carry on around to Clarence St & Groundwell Rd. The lane on the left could then be made a bus lane all the way back to the bus stops.
Reducing the width here would also allow larger pavements in front of Rudis & MECA allowing better pedestrian access or more Cafe culture in front of the venues.
[quote][p][bold]nobody[/bold] wrote: Shame about the pedestrian crossings, as now pedestrians have to rely on drivers to stop for them in order to cross the road. Also restricting two lanes from Commercial Rd. into one lane, for about 20 metres and then back to three seems ill thought out.[/p][/quote]Having three lanes has been a joke since they put a bus lane on Princess St. If they had any sense (which the council/road planners rarely do) they would reduce the road to 2 lanes, 1 to go down Princess St & the other to carry on around to Clarence St & Groundwell Rd. The lane on the left could then be made a bus lane all the way back to the bus stops. Reducing the width here would also allow larger pavements in front of Rudis & MECA allowing better pedestrian access or more Cafe culture in front of the venues. GrumpyLocal
  • Score: 10

5:33pm Mon 23 Jun 14

dukeofM4 says...

It's fantastic it's nearing completion, however, Swindon is late in this game when you compare development work in Bristol or Basingstoke for example in recent years.

Transport in town needs to be addressed. There's no point having a modern town centre with queues of traffic in / out and if they increase the parking charges.
It's fantastic it's nearing completion, however, Swindon is late in this game when you compare development work in Bristol or Basingstoke for example in recent years. Transport in town needs to be addressed. There's no point having a modern town centre with queues of traffic in / out and if they increase the parking charges. dukeofM4
  • Score: 5

5:57pm Mon 23 Jun 14

Badgersgetabadname says...

Great to see almost complete, yes some of the road works have been a bit of a pain in the bum but surely long term benefits out weigh some inconvenience?
As someone mentioned I think the original idea was that it would fit in with existing buildings?
Any news on residents or the church having issues repaired etc....
Great to see almost complete, yes some of the road works have been a bit of a pain in the bum but surely long term benefits out weigh some inconvenience? As someone mentioned I think the original idea was that it would fit in with existing buildings? Any news on residents or the church having issues repaired etc.... Badgersgetabadname
  • Score: -4

7:44pm Mon 23 Jun 14

We're all doomed says...

Ollie Dognacky wrote:
Didn't Garry Perkins say it was going to be a brick structure, in keeping with the local buildings?
🙊 just asking
👎-78
Yes, a bit of a missed opportunity. After all the library is nice looking building and will age well. Most of the prefabricated buildings look 30 years old within a year. Come on planning department, force the designers to put some effort in
[quote][p][bold]Ollie Dognacky[/bold] wrote: Didn't Garry Perkins say it was going to be a brick structure, in keeping with the local buildings? 🙊 just asking 👎-78[/p][/quote]Yes, a bit of a missed opportunity. After all the library is nice looking building and will age well. Most of the prefabricated buildings look 30 years old within a year. Come on planning department, force the designers to put some effort in We're all doomed
  • Score: 3

10:36pm Mon 23 Jun 14

semitonic says...

The complex is looking good but the traffic calming measures seem to be anti-pedestrian as well as anti-motorist (perfect for Swindon I guess).

Have a drink in Rudis and sit out the front watching the world go by - nobody knows what to do at the junctions!

The whole thing is a nightmare of car drivers not knowing which way to turn or give way at. Pedestrians crossing the road get beeped at by BMW drivers who come tearing round from Victoria road expecting everyone to get out of their way, because obviously they are special.

Pedestrians have nothing to rely on, such as a crossing button, so they panic and run. What on earth do blind people do? resign themselves to the prospect of ending up on the bonnet of a BMW on the way home?.

Nothing in place to curtail the menace of аrseholes treating Eastcot hill as a personal Brands Hatch either - very disappointing.
The complex is looking good but the traffic calming measures seem to be anti-pedestrian as well as anti-motorist (perfect for Swindon I guess). Have a drink in Rudis and sit out the front watching the world go by - nobody knows what to do at the junctions! The whole thing is a nightmare of car drivers not knowing which way to turn or give way at. Pedestrians crossing the road get beeped at by BMW drivers who come tearing round from Victoria road expecting everyone to get out of their way, because obviously they are special. Pedestrians have nothing to rely on, such as a crossing button, so they panic and run. What on earth do blind people do? resign themselves to the prospect of ending up on the bonnet of a BMW on the way home?. Nothing in place to curtail the menace of аrseholes treating Eastcot hill as a personal Brands Hatch either - very disappointing. semitonic
  • Score: -1

12:08am Tue 24 Jun 14

Eastern Badger says...

GrumpyLocal wrote:
The new road layout does seem to be an accident waiting to happen. Currently driving from Victoria Road is appalling. Historically the 2 lanes from Vic Rd allowed drivers to use either to get to Princess St. Without changing signage this is no longer possible as there is only 1 lane passing in front of Rudi's & Meca, forcing drivers to force their way in to the right hand lane or drive down Crombie St & all the way back up Commercial Rd. Secondly there appears to be no road markings telling drivers who has right of way where the road meets Commercial Rd. Again historically the traffic driving around and down towards Princess St have had priority yet the other day 2 cars drove straight at me on the bike as I followed the course of the road, nearly knocking me off in the process. As I looked back I realised that there is nothing telling anyone to give way.
In addition to these problems the carriageway from Commercial Rd has been reduced to one lane, adding to congestion & there are no traffic lights to allow pedestrians to cross safely..
The development is looking great but the road layout around it is an absolute joke waiting to kill someone.
Fully agree that the traffic and pedestrian management is what makes this another poor design - like Whalebridge where I have seen many EA unreported accidents. You cannot have pedestrian crossings where the drive can legitimately say that there is nothing to say they should give way - and the bus lane at the end of Commercial Road is a joke which already creates queues. Perhaps planning/highways are sent in to foul up schemes??
[quote][p][bold]GrumpyLocal[/bold] wrote: The new road layout does seem to be an accident waiting to happen. Currently driving from Victoria Road is appalling. Historically the 2 lanes from Vic Rd allowed drivers to use either to get to Princess St. Without changing signage this is no longer possible as there is only 1 lane passing in front of Rudi's & Meca, forcing drivers to force their way in to the right hand lane or drive down Crombie St & all the way back up Commercial Rd. Secondly there appears to be no road markings telling drivers who has right of way where the road meets Commercial Rd. Again historically the traffic driving around and down towards Princess St have had priority yet the other day 2 cars drove straight at me on the bike as I followed the course of the road, nearly knocking me off in the process. As I looked back I realised that there is nothing telling anyone to give way. In addition to these problems the carriageway from Commercial Rd has been reduced to one lane, adding to congestion & there are no traffic lights to allow pedestrians to cross safely.. The development is looking great but the road layout around it is an absolute joke waiting to kill someone.[/p][/quote]Fully agree that the traffic and pedestrian management is what makes this another poor design - like Whalebridge where I have seen many EA unreported accidents. You cannot have pedestrian crossings where the drive can legitimately say that there is nothing to say they should give way - and the bus lane at the end of Commercial Road is a joke which already creates queues. Perhaps planning/highways are sent in to foul up schemes?? Eastern Badger
  • Score: 2

12:02am Wed 25 Jun 14

greenpacer says...

Why do the roads around Morrisons and Waitrose go to pot. They seem to love 20mph , speed humps, speed tables and the like. That Waitrose store at Wichelstowe is built too close to what once was a lovely 40 mph road. .Now one has to slow down to 20mph and go over far too many high humps then a high speed table made to look like a mini-roundabout . It really feels like your about to be launched into space going over them even when one slows down!!!
Why do the roads around Morrisons and Waitrose go to pot. They seem to love 20mph , speed humps, speed tables and the like. That Waitrose store at Wichelstowe is built too close to what once was a lovely 40 mph road. .Now one has to slow down to 20mph and go over far too many high humps then a high speed table made to look like a mini-roundabout . It really feels like your about to be launched into space going over them even when one slows down!!! greenpacer
  • Score: 3

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