A couple of weeks ago in this column I referred to this year being a defining 12 months in terms of the future of the town.
North Star Village
Detailed plans have been submitted for the regional leisure destination at North Star and there are a number of projects currently in the pipeline which will breathe new life into our town centre.
Carriage Works refurbishemnt
One such project is the redevelopment of the Carriage Works and I was delighted to be given a tour recently of this mixed-use development, which is steeped in Swindon’s railway heritage and played a significant role in Brunel’s Great Western Works.
Built around 1876, it was once the largest carriage works in the country and was a beacon of Victorian innovation.
The Council has earmarked £2m to redevelop Unit 3 and 5 of the Carriage Works, which form part of the former West Shed, and I have to say the completed Unit 3 is looking fantastic.
It will operate as an innovation hub and will be marketed as WorkShed and managed by The Enterprise Network (TEN). There are around 80 work spaces, which can be rented on a flexible basis, and we are aiming the unit at technology professional, start-ups and consultants.
Workshed officially opened its doors last Friday and local companies in the shape of Bravedog and The Carto Group have already moved in with others in the process of taking up space. There is a buzz about the place and I cannot wait to see it bustling with creative talent in the months and years ahead.
Work to refurbish Unit 5 is already well underway and will provide an additional 100 work spaces. It has been a complicated project as the Carriage Works is a Grade II listed building so we have worked hard with our planning team to ensure we keep the historical fabric of the building intact and re-use as much of the original features as we can.
A ‘land swap’ deal between Network Rail and the Council was completed last month which means the entire Carriage Works and neighbouring Bristol Street car park are now owned by the Council, paving the way for further regeneration.
The next phase of the Carriage Works project will see the remainder of the West Shed, Units 7, 9 and 11, being redeveloped to create modern work spaces within a ‘campus’ environment. Work is likely to start at the end of the year, subject to planning approval.
University of Wales Trinity Saint David – Cultural Heritage Institute
The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) announced plans at the end of last year to set up a new Cultural Heritage Institute at the Carriage Works based in Unit 11, which is extremely exiting. The first courses are anticipated to start from September next year.
If you want to find out more about the available space at WorkShed I would thoroughly recommend you contact TEN by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01793 230322.