With just over a month until Christmas Day children up and down the country will be busily writing their letters to Santa before counting down the days until the morning of December 25, writes DAVID RENARD.

Next week a very important letter and accompanying documentation will be sent to the Heritage Lottery Fund and, like all those letters to Lapland, it will carry the hopes and dreams of thousands of people in Swindon.

In fact the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust’s £12m bid for lottery funding to build a new landmark museum and art gallery in the town is top of my wish list for Christmas and beyond.

This is a bid for Swindon and the Council is fully behind it, pledging £5m towards the overall cost.

I cannot emphasise enough the benefits that such a facility would bring.

We know from other towns and cities how an iconic building such as this can have a transformational effect on a town centre.

Put simply, like the North Star regional leisure scheme I highlighted in last week’s column, it will make Swindon stand out on the map and act as a magnet to draw people into Swindon from far and wide.

Regeneration is critical to ensuring Swindon is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable.

A new Museum and Art Gallery on the proposed site close to the Wyvern Theatre will link with other cultural facilities in the area and catalyse wider regeneration in a manner that other proposed sites could not.

I was therefore surprised to discover at the weekend that a petition calling for the plans to be scrapped and for us to consider housing our marvellous museum and art collection in either the Mechanics’ Institute or the soon-to-be occupied Carriage Works was once again being highlighted on social media.

The passion displayed by those people who would like to see our heritage restored is to be admired, but these buildings are in completely the wrong location and would deny us a modern, purpose-built stunning piece of architecture that would influence generations of people to come.

I am pleased the petitioners share our belief that the town needs a new museum and art gallery, but if we want this bid to succeed we need everyone uniting as one behind our bid, or we may find the opportunity will be lost.

For those, who oppose our plans I say this: It is not too late to change your own Christmas wish. Back the bid.