THE dilapidated former Swindon College site in the town centre should be demolished by the end of the year.

In its place will go a multi-million complex which will contain a supermarket, a seven-screen cinema along with bars and restaurants.

Swindon Council officials said they were hopeful that work would start this year along with the £250 million Union Square development, which should get planning permission in three months.

Leader of the council Rod Bluh and Gavin Jones, the chief executive, were speakers at Destination Swindon, a public meeting last night organised by the GWE Business West, at the De Vere Hotel at Shaw Ridge and chaired by the GWE’s Nicky Alberry.

More than 150 businessmen and women attended to hear the council’s 20-year vision for the town, a vision which had changed dramatically because of the recession.

Coun Bluh said that Swindon would be among the town’s in the UK who would lead the country out of recession because of the partnership it had developed with the private sector.

He said: “2010 will see us kicking off out of the recession because of the resilience we have here in Swindon.

“And in 2009 we had one of the best years in getting the name of the Swindon known better around the country – getting rid of the speed cameras, the Radio One weekend; the wi-fi launch which attracted interest from around the world and, of course, our twinning with Disneyworld.”

Mr Bluh said that progress would continue with the work going ahead this year and the council was confident with the Union Square development and the one at the Swindon College. Subject to approval by the council cabinet the New Swindon Company, which was responsible for regenerating the heart of the town, will be wound up at the end of March.

A new company – Forward Swindon – will be formed with a £1m start-up.

It will be given more responsibility and will have the regeneration of the town centre and Old Town among its priorities.

Mr Jones had said that it was time for Swindon to move on and, while the New Swindon Company was set up through the recommendation of a Government model, it was no longer suited to Swindon.

Businessman Mark Beard said it was important the council backed one of the major projects which had floundered – such as the university or the town centre redevelopment.

“If you go for all of them you might end up with none of them,” he said.

Mr Bluh said the town centre scheme was the most important.