Tag: green

Visions for Swindon

I’ve visited two exhibitions today showing visions for Swindon. First was the young amateurs. The ‘Visions for Swindon’ exhibition by Swindon College School of Arts included several imaginative designs. Being from young students, some lacked practicality, but the more realistic ones still showed original ideas that if turned into reality would be unique.

Then it was on to the professionals. The New Swindon Company’s exhibition of their designs for tidying up Canal Walk. Now, I’m all in favour of things green, but the proposal for a green wall is completely out-of-place A solid wall of greenery in a place where it’s surrounded by steel, glass and concrete walls looks ridiculous. It would look rather less silly if they spread it around a bit, so that there was some greenery on all the surrounding walls too. According to one of the company’s representatives at the exhibition, it will be first in the country. I guess she’s never seen an ivy covered wall, nor read her company’s own bumf which says there’s already one in London.

Designer puddleThen there’s the water features. The water jets in the display have already been dropped, I was told. The other water feature in the design, stylised puddles, or ‘Natural Stone Rainwater Water Features’ as the designers call them, were clearly giving the representatives a few problems: they were very keen to emphasise that they wouldn’t be a safety risk.

With the hyperbole being spouted to support these proposals making repeated reference to the Wilts & Berks Canal, it’s odd that they propose to relocate the Golden Lion statue. A statue that marks the site of the Golden Lion Bridge over the canal is rather pointless elsewhere.

Adding to the hyperbole, as has become traditional for all matters related to town centre regeneration, is one of our local councillors. This time, it’s Mr Young’s turn to be in twaddle mode.

We think greenery helps bring the town centre back to life and makes it a much more pleasant place to be and make people come into the town even if it’s just to see it.

I agree that it’ll make the town centre more pleasant, but if people are going somewhere just to see greenery, I suspect they’ll choose the countryside where there’s rather more of it.

McDonald’s felt that before Wharf Green was done, it was dragging the area down.

Hmm… guess they didn’t like the competition.

It’s very important to us to set a high standard with public realm improvements, and we want to hear what local people have to say.

Aah, the deceit of faux consultation! With work on Canal Walk due to start in July, the time for influencing the design is well passed. The New Swindon Company’s hubris is equally over-the-top.

The design concept aims to provide a vibrant, accessible street scene, encouraging visitors and shoppers to come to Swindon town centre as an exciting destination in its own right as well as for the shopping.

It’ll take rather more than a few trees, a hedge, new paving stones and stylised puddles to do that.

By renewing Canal Walk we aim to… provide a unique identity and quality environment… making Swindon an exciting place to visit.

A few trees an puddles amongst the paving stones as a source of excitement… developers must lead a dull life.

The designs for Canal Walk are the effort of no less than four consultancy companies. The New Swindon Company would’ve been better off hiring the college students.

Green is the new black

Courtesy of whoever was ‘kind’ enough to buy a tube of green toilet rolls for me in the office Secret Santa, I have now discovered that green is the new black. Renova sell their ‘Black’ paper products (kitchen rolls, toilet rolls, napkins and handkerchieves) in a range of colours: black (naturally), red, orange and — the latest addition to their range — green. Can’t help feeling that the marketing people have got a little over-excited, though. For example, of their paper handkerchieves they say

Be invaded by these vibrant… pulpy and glossy green handkerchiefs….

A handkerchief invasion? Scary! They describe their toilet rolls as

Luxury tissue paper in emerald green to celebrate exotism [sic] in the bathroom. Enjoy!

They even suggest that using Black toilet paper will

Promote your business name and fame!

Really? Business success has never been so easy….

A warm mystery in every single olfactive [sic] moment.
Soft and glamorous… A paper of pleasure

From now on, I will flush with pride!

Co-op colours

The co-op store in Old Town has had a change of colour. From the old blue and white that have been the corporate colours of the consumer co-ops in Britain for as long as I can remember, to something much more to my liking, except for the travel section, which has turned from yellow to an equally bright orange.

Fly the flag

According to some, the new Wiltshire flag (which will be flying from County Hall from tomorrow) is

a bizarre mix of psychedelic green with a big bird in the middle

Green with a big bird in the middle’…. Nowt wrong with that in my opinion.

An apple a day keeps the town planners away

I’d not noticed until someone pointed it out to me that, in addition to the Central Area Action Plan, there is also a Core Strategy for future development of Swindon currently out for consultation (deadline for comments is Wednesday 23rd May). Apparently, Swindon has green fingers.

A significant feature of past development in Swindon has been the creation and retention of ‘green fingers’ between areas of development. This provides the opportunity for green infrastructure to be enhanced and increased as the town grows.

Slowly but surely, the planning framework is turning into a green skeleton. Next we need some green arms, to join the green fingers to the Central Action Plan’s green spine.

One bit of advice. If you’re thinking of using the online form to send the council your answers to the almost ninety questions that the Core Strategy contains,… don’t. It doesn’t work. The numbering of the questions doesn’t match the numbering in the consultation document and most of your answers will be lost. ’Tis far safer (and easier) to email your comments to the council.

Planned insights

I’ve been reading through the latest version of Swindon Borough Council’s Central Area Action Plan which is now out for consultation. It’s nice to see that, as hoped for, the Green Spine now has a bit more body to it, looking a little like a headless running stickman (though I think I detect a green football and a green sombrero in there too).

The plan includes some masterpieces of thoughtful insight. An observation on page 27 is the epitome of this erudition.

[Crime] hotspots remain and concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour are still evident in Central Swindon, and in particular in the Bridge Street and Fleet Street Area. In this area, the peak times for violent offences, is in the evenings and at weekends, which suggests a strong link with alcohol misuse.

Only suggests? Move on to page 65.

The dominance of drinking establishments in the Fleet Street area has by a large margin given rise to more crime in the area than at any other location in Swindon.

Aah… a little bit of realism at last. More seriously, this unclear thinking goes deeper than just presenting the obvious as thoughtful observations. When considering the not-so-obvious, some of the statements are, with a little thought, just plain wrong. Move on to page 94.

A significant proportion of these private rented properties are Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMOs). This high proportion of private rented accommodation is to a large extent a by-product of the exodus of families from Central Swindon.

To confuse ‘cause and effect’ with ‘supply and demand’ is a serious mistake in a document whose prime purpose is to regulate the supply of property over the next twenty years.


Swindon Borough Council’s Central Area Action Plan will be out for consultation from the end of this month. Whilst full of big visions that make good headlines, the ‘action’ will be spread over quite a long period… until 2026. Worth a look, if only to see if you can find some green arms and green legs to go with the proposed green spine. A green man amongst the streets of Swindon would be a unique planning concept.

What shade of green?

Apparently I’m teal green. I was hoping to be a nice green shade of green.

You are Teal Green

You are a one of a kind, original person. There’s no one even close to being like you. Expressive and creative, you have a knack for making the impossible possible.
While you are a bit offbeat, you don’t scare people away with your quirks. Your warm personality nicely counteracts any strange habits you may have.

What shade of green are you?