I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very happy new year.
For the Council, 2018 is going to be another challenging year as we strive to make millions of pounds in savings while at the same time ensuring we look after an increasing number of vulnerable people.
But we also go into the year full of optimism as there are a number of exciting projects in the pipeline which could provide a lasting legacy and make the town we all love even better.
North Star £270m regional leisure destination
One of the developments I refer to is of course the plans to create a £270m regional leisure destination at North Star featuring an indoor ski slope, restaurants and hotel, not forgetting the country’s biggest IMAX screen. The detailed plans for the scheme are likely to be submitted over the next few months and construction on the site could begin by the end of the year.
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust bid
This spring we should also learn whether the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust has been successful in its bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. If we are lucky enough to get the thumbs up for the funding, the new museum and art gallery will provide the most significant boost to Swindon’s town centre in recent memory.
University of Wales Trinity Saint David is coming to the Carriage Works
Just before Christmas we announced that The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) would be setting up a professional training hub for the cultural heritage industries in the Carriage Works. This is fantastic news and builds on the Council’s commitment to increase higher education provision in Swindon.
The Carriage Works is a key project for the Council which is being overseen by Forward Swindon and it is great that our redevelopment of 1-3 Faringdon Road is also nearing completion.
You will also see other visible signs of progress in the coming months from the transformation of Wellington Street, which links the railway station to the town centre, through to the redevelopment of Falcon House above Debenhams.
New homes across the Borough
We have also built our own homes at Euclid Terrace using our own housing company and 85 properties will follow at Herons Water in the spring at Wichelstowe after they were granted planning permission last month and later this year our partnership with Nationwide, which will see £50m invested on the Oakfield site, will also start to move forward following extensive consultation with local people.
Improving our infrastructure is also high on the Council’s list of priorities and over the next few months the £11.5m improvements will be completed and work will then start to improve Mannington Roundabout along the Great Western Way corridor. Plans are also in place to upgrade Junction 15 of the M4 and our plans to improve congestion on Mead Way could be underway by the end of the year.
It promises to be a big year, but we are more than ready for the challenge.