AN £80m scheme which would see a new and much bigger Wyvern Theatre built at Kimmerfields has been given the go ahead.

The development – not expected to be complete for a decade – would include an art gallery, museum, dance studio and digital media studio facilities.

But Swindon Borough Council will not be funding it, said the authority’s cabinet member for the town centre, culture and heritage Dale Heenan.

Coun Heenan put his plans for the development to his colleagues on the council’s Conservative cabinet this week. They all approved the plan and told Coun Heenan to proceed.

Coun Heenan said the plan to put the quarter at the Kimmerfields site was a change from previous proposals which were to see the art gallery and museum housed in an expanded Wyvern Theatre at its current site at the top of Princes Street.

He said: “The Kimmerfields site is already under construction and there is work on the bus boulevard in Fleming Way which will move the bus station – that site might be used for the Wyvern Theatre.”

Coun Heenan said there were a number of advantages to building the 'cultural quarter' at the Kimmerfields site – it was near the railway station for visitors and would “consolidate the town centre around the business district and the Brunel Centre and The Parade."

He said it would help contract the town centre in response to different consumer shopping habits.

“It means we can do different parts of the scheme at different times as money becomes available rather than all in one building at one time," he added.

Labour group leader Jim Grant asked what might happen to the area at the top of Princes Street, where the Wyvern Theatre now stands.

Cabinet member for strategic planning Gary Sumner said: “We are conducting a local plan review, which includes the town centre masterplan.

"We are holding workshops with land owners in the town centre and potential investors and there is a lot of interest from investors in the area.”

With the approval of the plan by cabinet Coun Heenan said: “The real hard work starts now. The council will not be paying for this, so we will be working with partners at the Arts Council and others to deliver this.”

Coun Grant said Labour councillors supported the scheme, in principal, but added: “We were fully involved in the previous masterplan. We have not been involved in this at all.

"You need cross-party consensus to get funding for these things – we’d want to be part of the planning and part of the delivery of this."