A NEW institute set up to support the cultural heritage which Swindon is renowned for will be opened in the town centre later this year.

Offices, seminar rooms, a library and a lecture space for the Royal Agricultural University will fill a converted two-floor unit as part of the second phase of the multi-million pound Carriage Works renovation.

It follows the success of the first phase Workshed project on the same site.

Once the council-funded refurbishment is complete in September, postgraduates and professionals will be taught archaeology, heritage management and other specialist courses in a Cultural Heritage Institute set up with a 20-year lease agreed between the council, the RAU and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

The institute’s director Dr Geraint Coles said: “Swindon has the headquarters of Historic England, the National Trust and the National Monuments Archive, which is a huge concentration of heritage activity that makes it a natural place to train people for employment in this industry.

“It’s a big multi-million pound business that will go through massive changes and we need to make sure the next generation is more business-like, more organised and more capable going into the future.

“This is an exciting project and one that I believe is essential if the UK is to remain a leader in global heritage management.”

Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for economic prosperity Oliver Donachie said: “I’ve seen how this process can turn a run-down sad location to a fully-developed hub like the Workshed, so I’ve got complete faith in the team, I’m delighted with this project and I know this going to be an excellent location in a few months’ time.

“The university provides a real opportunity to meet the needs of the cultural sector and supports our commitment to work with a number of stakeholders to increase our higher education provision in Swindon.”