PLANS for the Regeneration of a town centre eyesore could be finally taking shape.

At a cabinet meeting at the civic offices, Swindon councillor Phil Young, Cabinet member for culture, regeneration and economic development, announced a breakthrough in the old college site at Regent Circus.

The former Swindon College building has been empty for the past three years and the council has been in discussion with Ashfield Land, the developers of the site.

A design and layout has been agreed and a planning application could be submitted to the council by the early part of next year.

“We have been there before on the college site,” said Coun Young after the meeting. “It’s cautious optimism at the moment. For the first time in a long time there is cause for optimism. It’s a case of the last points for negotiation.”

Coun Young said the project had been delayed to a large extent due to the effects of the recession and the subsequent changes to plans made by the developers.

The plans had been reduced virtually to just a cinema, but now include a cinema, an undisclosed supermarket, retail shops and a cafe and restaurant area. The original plan for residential housing has been put aside as the current housing market is not seen as viable.

Coun Young said that although the council was under pressure to do something with the site the council had not been prepared to compromise its vision.

He said the council was keen not to place the supermarket entrance on the front of the site, but to have an open square with cafes. He said that because the old college site is a gateway to the town centre it was important to create the right image.

Coun Young said: “We want quality for our town centre.

“We’re not just just going to sign away that quality just to get things moving in the recession. The breakthrough came about a month or two ago and they have gone away to do more detailed work.”

Work is taking place to improve the look of the town centre with the work completed by the New Swindon Company on Wharf Green and Canal Walk with work planned for Regent Street. During the cabinet meeting, Coun Young said: “We should be proud that we have created an environment for people to want to come and invest their money.

“They see something in Swindon is happening and they want to be part of it.

“Regeneration takes a long time because of how the town has developed over time – it has diverse land ownership.”