The Swindon Festival of Literature has had a great many highlights this year and last Tuesday evening’s event presented in association with Switch on to Swindon was no exception. Charles Landry is a writer, speaker and inventor of the Creative City concept and author of a book called The Art of City Making. His presentation centred on the following question - in a world on the move, how do we create vibrant, rooted and creative cities where 21st century humans want to live and thrive?

Clearly it is not only Swindon that must think about this, other towns and cities across the country and world are grappling with this challenge. Amongst a great many insights and observations there were a few points that feel particularly relevant to Swindon.

People make places and there needs to be a focus on creating places and spaces that attract people and where they want to be. This can be work places, open spaces, cultural places but the focus must be on people.

Connectivity is key, connectivity to other places and within a place. Connectivity to other places is a big advantage for Swindon but we certainly do have work to do to make Swindon feel more connected and easier to navigate. – some ‘knitting together is required’ as Mr. Landry put it!

Start with using what you have and make the most of what you have, a really important point brought to life with some great examples from other countries. And finally some advice about having vision, or rather advice not to have one. Instead of a vision for place have ambition, set the bar high, experiment and be bold.

Plenty to think about and now to a green shoot perhaps that ticks a lot of those points above. Ahead of its official opening on June 1 the Switch on to Swindon Place Board are going to be holding our monthly meeting in the new Workshed at the Carriage Works.

This marks the first part of Swindon Council’s refurbishment of the former Brunel Carriage Works with the Workshed operated by The Enterprise Network. Aimed at fast-growing small and medium-sized businesses the SME Innovators’ Incubation Centre will provide cutting edge facilities for ground-breaking businesses. The Workshed will create 150 co-working spaces in mainly open-plan office space, with affordable rates and aims to nurture business owners and create a space where businesses can support each other to grow.

The last time I had a tour it was an empty shell of a building in need of a lot of TLC. I’ve been reliably informed that it has been transformed into a space that significantly raises the bar in terms of a quality working environment for up and coming business owners.

Right in the middle of the town centre near the train station means it is certainly connected. A creative transformation of an historic building certainly means it is a good use of what we already have. And from what I hear, and will see very soon, it is space that people will want to be in be attracted to.

Something to build on then and if you want to the transformation for yourself then book a place at our next Switch on to Swindon event on June 14, 6pm-8pm at the Carriage Works – register here: