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Date added: 13 October 2006

Big plans for Swindon town centre 

Shoppers at the Brunel Centre got a glimpse of what Swindon town centre could look like in 2010 this week.

Modus, the preferred developer for the re-generation of the Granville Street car park area, have been displaying their plans for a proposed 200 million pound modernisation for public viewing - and comment.
 
Close inspection:
the proposed 'Regent Place' plans come under scrutiny
   

The scheme will involve homes, shops, leisure facilities including a cinema, a hotel and an underground car park, plus a mix of quality food retailers and restaurants.

Positive reaction

"It's the first time I've seen the ideas, and it all looks very exciting," said Caroline Mansfield, 42.

"The town centre definitely needs improving and these plans give us all something to look forward to."
 
Artist impression of the Regeneration
Way overdue:
how the Granville Street car park site
(below) will be transformed
Regeneration Swindon
 

Kevin Garrett, 28, was also equally interested because the project originally proposed the demolition of his home in Havelock Street to make way for an extension to the Brunel Shopping Centre.

"I'm pretty happy to be honest," he said, "Havelock Street should be preserved and these plans appear to do that."

"If it all goes through, this whole area is going to be a great place to live."

Back to the future

Provisionally named 'Regent Place', the five-acres scheme may also see the return of one of Swindon's most famous buildings - the Baptist Tabernacle.

Originally built in 1886, the classically inspired structure stood in Regent Street until its controversial demolition in 1978.
 
Baptist Tabernacle
Unlikely return?:
the Baptist Tabernacle (on left) circa. 1900

Its six Tuscan column frontage, however, plus the majority of the Bath stone used in its construction were saved local man Stanley Frost, who planned (unsuccessfully) to re-use them at his own home nearby.

These stones have now been found in Northampton in what has been described as 'excellent condition', and may yet be used as part of a ceremonial square within the new scheme.
 
Tabernacle Swindon
Tabernacle Swindon
 
"It could yet happen," said Council leader Roderick Bluh, "and it would provide an excellent link back to Swindon's proud historical past."

If everything goes to plan, Modus hope to start preliminary construction work on the Regent Place project in mid-2007.
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