AMBITIOUS plans to create a new cultural quarter and decide the fate of Swindon's Wyvern Theatre, are a step closer.

The New Swindon Company has appointed architects to draw up a vision for The Promenade site, between Swindon's magistrate's courts and the old college site.

It is hoped that the area will become a home to a cinema, a museum and an art gallery, the new library, a dance studio and a theatre.

The experts will also look at whether the Wyvern Theatre should be kept or replaced.

"What this appointment means is that we can start to flesh out the sort of uses for the area," said Chris Hitchins, the director of development at the New Swindon Company.

"The study the architects will complete for us will look at precisely how we provide a cultural complex in that part of Swindon.

"And that will include do we get rid of the Wyvern? Or do we refurbish it?

"We need to look at the Wyvern and look at if it will cost less to knock down the existing theatre and build a bigger, new one, than it costs to run the present Wyvern.

"We also need to consider what facilities we want, and need, for the population of Swindon now and in 20 years.

"We are looking at all the options to take the area forward.

"And we will be much clearer about where we are going in six weeks."

The Promenade is one of Swindon's key regeneration areas and the plan had always been to develop it as a cultural area.

But the architects will also decide if 500 new homes could also be squeezed on to the site.

Capita Architecture is the company tasked with drawing up the study for the area - which covers 80,000 sq m.

Mr Hitchins added: "We have this opportunity to create a new cultural hub for Swindon which is exciting - and the fact it is moving forwards is even more exciting."

Coun Phil Young, Swindon Council's cabinet member for economic development and regeneration, said: "We are very keen to ensure that cultural development is at the heart of the regeneration of the town.

"And, with Capita on board working alongside Swindon Council and Swindon Cultural Partnership, we are very excited at realising the potential for Swindon."