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View looks up as former college eyesore comes down
A HISTORIC vista lost for decades has been re-opened in Eastcott after another large section of the former Swindon College was demolished last week.
Developer Ashfield, which acquired the site in Regent Circus in 2006, appointed contractor Wring Demolition to pull down the eyesore to make way for a £50m leisure complex, including a 52,000 sq ft Morrison’s store, eight restaurants, a 30,000 sq ft six-screen Cineworld cinema and a 450-space car park.
Last week, workmen used large machinery to break up most of the main building, leaving just the tallest building standing, and the whole site is expected to be cleared by late summer, with construction of the complex starting in the autumn for a spring 2014 opening.
The demolition has opened up views which were last seen when several streets were demolished in the mid-1960s to clear the site for the college, which was built in stages.
Regulars at the Beehive pub, in Prospect Hill, have been watching the progress with interest, and pub worker Sophie Corrigan said a few extra people had come in because they could see the pub from the town centre.
“It’s been popular in the pub, they’ve been sitting out on tables and chairs in the street and watching. It has been quite impressive at times, especially when the water tank came off,” she said.
“It’s been good for trade because people can see us down from the library and potter up.”
Sophie, whose house in Cross Street overlooks the site, said: “You can now see for miles, literally for miles. You can see the Faringdon Folly.”
Keith McArdell, of Cross Street Garage, said the firm planned to put up an advert on the back of the building, which can now be seen from the Regent Street area.
He said: “With it down you can see the town hall, you can see the library. It just opens it out fantastically. “How long that stays will depend on how quickly they start building it up. Cross Street Garage will be able to advertise with a big hoarding out at the back and people will be able to see it from the street.”
Peter Green, of the Back Garden community group, who lives in Prospect Hill, said the new view changed the character of the area. “Not only because you can see down into Regent Circus, but if you are in Regent Circus, you can see the way that Prospect Hill and Old Town goes up so places like the Beehive look very romantic.
“It almost looks like a Devon fishing village. I hope it’s not going to be spoiled by the new building.”