Cavendish Square - Ring Cafe Closes
New Life For Cavendish Square
24 July 2006
The long awaited redevelopment of Cavendish Square is officially underway.
After years of consultation, planning and preparation, developers started work today to totally regenerate the shopping centre originally built in the 1960s to serve the then-new Park North and Park South estates.
And judging by the reaction of those living and working in the run down precinct, it's a move that couldn't have come too soon.
"I'm all for it," said Gerry Williams, who has owned and run the Ring cafe in Cavendish Square since 1964.
"I've seen this place grow spectacularly in the 1960s and then slowly die over the last twenty years. It's been a real shame to witness it.
"The community spirit here is still as strong as ever, though. And I hope the redevelopment helps to make that even stronger for the next generation."
The massive project takes in all aspects of life at Cavendish Square - residential, commercial and community.
It will see the building of 174 new homes - 33 of which will be affordable housing.
The shopping area is to be revamped and a new Co-op store built. The library will be enlarged, refitted and restocked and improvements will be made to Oak Tree School.
Plans include a play area and a multi-use games area to be shared by the school and community.
Swindon Borough Council partners on the development Leehampton Developments Ltd will are responsible for the school works and Bellway Plc the residential.
The school part of the project is expected to be completed by the end of the year; the commercial works by the end of 2008 and the residential by Autumn 2009.
Cavendish Square was built as a centrepiece to a new council housing estate in the 1960s, when it was highly regarded by residents - many of whom moved to Swindon from the south east during the town's post-war expansion period.
Mary Robinson, who re-located from London 38 years ago after her husband found work at what was then Pressed Steel Fisher (now BMW), was one.
"The whole area was fantastic when we first moved in," said Mary, who still lives nearby.
"We had everything we could wish for. A Woolworths, a greengrocer, two chemists, a supermarket, clothes shops, banks and two top quality butchers."
"I've loved living here and my two sons also live here. But the place has suffered in the last few years very badly."
"Let's hope the re-building will bring the Square back to its former glory."
Echoing those words was Swindon mayor Mike Bawden, who was present at the site alongside representatives from Belway and Leehampton to officially get proceedings underway.
"The Council intends to create a development of which we can all be be proud of," he said. "The community is at the heart of our scheme to redevelop Cavendish Square and plans were formed following consultation with local people."
As well as working with developers (both commercial and residential), the Council has forged a partnership with Parks and East Walcot Neighbourhood Renewal Company.
The Renewal Company works with the community, public, private and voluntary sectors for regeneration and renewal in Parks and East Walcot and has an office at Cavendish Square.
Swindon Borough Council Cabinet Member for Health, Housing and Social Care, Cllr David Renard, said: "The Cavendish Square scheme is an amazing project which the community has helped us shape.
"There may be some disruption as the scheme comes to fruition but the end result will be a fabulous regeneration project to benefit the whole community. We are working together to create a scheme which will serve the entire community for generations to come."
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