Government backs Bus Boulevard scheme to transform Fleming Way
Swindon has been given a belated £25m Christmas present by the Government which will help pave the way for a new bus interchange and gateway into the town centre.Published: Thursday, 24th December 2020
Swindon Borough Council has been awarded the funding through the Government’s Future High Streets Fund, which supports local areas’ plans to make their high streets and town centres fit for the future.
The proposed Bus Boulevard scheme developed by the Council would see Fleming Way completely transformed to include a new public open space on the north side with a green central spine to increase biodiversity.
The scheme will also feature much-improved pedestrian and cycle routes and the removal of the current Fleming Way underpass creating an attractive route from the train station into the town centre, encouraging further investment in the area.
Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) has contributed £3m to progress the design of the scheme together with the necessary site investigations and utility diversions. The Council’s Cabinet has also approved a contribution of £5m in capital funding to the project.
The Council’s bid was backed by major landowners and transport operators. As part of the Bus Boulevard plans, all national and local bus services will be incorporated along Fleming Way, improving the experience of bus users and pedestrians, while the new road layout would complete the link between the Eastern and Western Flyer cycle routes.
Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “This is absolutely tremendous news for Swindon and is a real show of faith by the Government in our plans to transform our town centre.
“Strategically this is a really important scheme and will open up this whole area, making it much more accessible and attractive to potential investors. We recognised some time ago with the decline in retail on the High Street that we needed to transform our town centre and the coronavirus pandemic has only accelerated that need for change.
“I am confident we will bounce back stronger here in Swindon and these plans for the Bus Boulevard will act as a real catalyst, increasing land values and unlocking the proposed residential development at Kimmerfields and the surrounding area.”
The Fleming Way Bus Boulevard also supports the vision for the town centre, which states that ‘By 2030, Swindon town centre will be the beating heart of the local community. Accessible thanks to modern, sustainable transport links, it will be a destination of choice for people to live, learn, work and play’.
Councillor Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for the Town Centre, Culture and Heritage, said: “Finally, a bit of Christmas cheer for Swindon! The importance of this decision cannot be underestimated for our town centre. The new bus station will address the design issues of the past where Fleming Way created a barrier between the town centre’s retail and business district. When finished, this work will help to create a place where people want to live, and where businesses want to invest.
“For the first time in over 20 years we have cranes on site building the first new office block in the town centre. One of the reasons Zurich chose to commit its long-term future to our town, and potential expansion, was because of our plans for the wider area, and this £25m is key to making it happen.
“More than 20 new shops have opened in the town centre in the last six months and, now we have this money agreed by the Government, we can push forward in 2021 with momentum and without the usual doom and gloom. We now need a positive decision on our multi-million pound Towns Fund bid during January to ensure that a big part of our 10-year improvement plan for our town centre can be delivered.”
Work on the Bus Boulevard scheme is expected to start next winter (2021/22). Over the next 12 months, a temporary bus station will be created within the Kimmerfields site and the John Street multi-storey car park off Fleming Way will be demolished as part of the wider overall plans.