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First phase of £34m Queens Drive regeneration project off to a flying start

The coronavirus pandemic has not slowed progress at Queens Drive as the first phase of the £34m regeneration project continues apace.

Published: Tuesday, 27th October 2020
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Drivers will have noticed that hoardings, which contain specially-designed artwork, have been erected around the site as contractors Willmott Dixon have continued to work in line with government safety advice.

Phase 1A of the project comprises the demolition of the George Gay Gardens’ site, completed in April last year, and the construction of 32 flats and 15 houses. Phase 1A construction work started in June and will be complete by next winter (2021).

Phase 1B will then involve the demolition of the existing T-blocks and construction of 68 flats and 34 houses. This phase is expected to start in late spring next year.

So far we have seen the completion of a temporary road surface and temporary parking on Kelham Close for local residents. The foundations for the first phase of building work have been laid and bricklayers have begun construction.

Next month, a temporary bridge will be installed over Wolsely Avenue to allow greater ease of access around the site. More information will be communicated about that shortly.

The regeneration at Queens Drive is one of Swindon Borough Council’s major house building projects and will help the authority achieve its pledge to build new affordable homes and to develop brownfield sites. The plans involve building 149 affordable homes – 100 new flats and 49 new houses.

Councillor Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “This key regeneration project supports the Council’s bid to build more housing, and I am delighted to see the progress that has been made on site so far.

“This development will provide modern, efficient, well-developed homes for the future. Ensuring that quality, affordable housing is available in Swindon is a top priority for this Council and we understand the importance of investing in our local communities to benefit residents.”

Sarah Bastajian, Director at Willmott Dixon, said: "The positive impact of this project is already being felt – to date 74 per cent of the work has been completed by local people. In addition to supporting the local workforce, the Willmott Dixon team is looking to support apprenticeships at New College Swindon and is in the process of developing virtual tools to enable this to take place in line with current guidelines.

“We strongly believe that projects must positively contribute to their communities and this project is no different. We are delighted to be part of the project and look forward to providing the residents of Swindon with new homes."

The new buildings have been designed to reflect Swindon’s unique heritage and efforts have been made to incorporate the town’s railway history into the designs. The grid formation of the apartments, for example, is based on the widths of the former engine sheds used to house, repair and maintain trains.

The Queens Drive regeneration project is estimated to cost £34m and is being funded from a grant from Homes England, Housing Revenue Account (HRA) borrowing, future rents and income generated from the development.

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