THE REDEVELOPMENT of the former Swindon College site has been branded ‘awkward, unpleasant and unimaginative’ by a respected Government adviser on urban design.

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) recommended the plans be refused and said a ‘fundamental rethink’ is required.

Ashfield Land submitted plans at the end of May for a £100m redevelopment of the site to include a seven-screen cinema, restaurants, bars, a Morrisons supermarket, shops and an 800-space car park.

The former college site, which is part of the Regent Circus redevelopment, has been deserted since 2006 and has become one of the biggest eyesores in the town.

Swindon Council has a meeting with the developer on Monday to discuss the plans after some minor alterations were made over the summer.

The CABE is asked to submit its views on planning applications for major developments in towns and cities across the UK.

In its report it said an opportunity had been lost to improve connections between the Old Town and the new to help raise the profile of Swindon.

It also criticised the layout, the scale of the proposed buildings and said the design was out of keeping with the area.

It concluded: “We had reservations for the design of the development that was previously proposed on this site. It is worrying that we find even less to support in the current proposal.

“Not only will the development fail to make the transition that is required between the old town and the new, but it misses the opportunity to improve the character and environmental quality of the town centre.

“An anonymous, low quality development is a poor replacement of the college, offering little to local residents and patrons of the town and unlikely to attract those investors that could bring a unique offer to Swindon.

“In light of our comments we do not think that the proposed development should be given planning permission. A fundamental rethink of the development on every level is required, to include a reconsideration of its scale, mass and layout.”

Andrew Fisher, of Ashfield Land, said he was ‘disappointed’ that CABE had failed to understand the background to the scheme.

He said: “It’s fair to say that their comments are not entirely accurate in factual terms.

“I think personally they may have confused this with the previous application - they called it a ‘mixed use’ site whereas it is a retail and leisure scheme.

“They are a quango who don’t actually know what the scheme is really about.”

Mr Fisher said he expected the plans to go before the planning committee on October 12.