WHALEBRIDGE, without its network of subways, seems like just another building site – but this unassuming area is key to the £330m Union Square regeneration.

Since work started in March, the roundabout and four subways, next to Jurys Inn, in Fleming Way, have been filled in and work has started to lay a pedestrian plaza.

And the £4m project is on track and on budget to be virtually completed by December 23, with the lane closures being removed by December 7.

Union Square is the long-awaited office-led mixed-use development, which is being pushed ahead by Swindon Council, economic development firm Forward Swindon, developer Muse and the Homes and Communities Agency.

Garry Perkins, Swindon Council’s deputy leader, who is responsible for the town centre regeneration, said remodelling Whalebridge is key as it provides the infrastructure to attract businesses to occupy the offices.

He said: “It’s critical in terms of the traffic flow, the pedestrian flow and selling the office accommodation. It’s got to be good enough for people to move in.

“We have to attract the tenants to enable the developer to go forward. The fact that there’s £4m invested shows Swindon is serious, it shows Muse is serious.

“So when they go to look at where new offices are going to be they can see the facilities are there and it links up.”

The money has been provided equally from the Homes and Communities Agency and the now defunct South West England Regional Development Agency.

The removal of the roundabout aims to make it easier for people to walk safely between areas within the centre, for example across Princes Street and Fleming Way, between the shops and Union Square and up to the theatre, without facing barriers.

The roundabout will be replaced by a pedestrian-friendly, signal-controlled junction, with a series of one-way traffic flows and bus lanes, as well as a large plaza of durable granite blocks.

It is hoped the plaza will have trees and a water feature, which require planning permission.

To combat the problem of flash flooding at the site, a 100-cubic metre attenuation tank has been installed underground.

The junction of Princes Street and Gordon Road is being changed to allow motorists to turn right and left out of Gordon Road, instead of just left, and to allow pedestrians to cross at that point.

Chris Hitchings, the director of development at Forward Swindon, said: “I want to see this become part of the central business district.

“Before, it has been out on a limb and by putting in some attractive calming measures and making it pedestrian-friendly, you will give the entrance into Swindon a much nicer feel.

“It’s an arrival point with quality materials and quality buildings on either side.”

In November, Swindon Council is expected to consider the 1,500-page outline planning application for Union Square, which will include offices, restaurants, shops and housing, all set around new high-quality public squares.

The first £25m phase, which could start as soon as April focuses on the site of the former police station.

A planning application is expected to be submitted in November.

It would include an 850-space car park, 41-sheltered housing units, and an new building for the Primary Care Trust.