With work on Thomas Homes’ Smith’s Quarter development resumed, it’s sad to see the majority of what was left of the traverser in the former GWR works ripped up. All that remains is the bare minimum that is needed to serve STEAM museum.
The Smith’s Quarter development rises by the traverser in the former GWR Swindon Works, with the David Murray John Tower in the background.
From the title alone, those with an interest in such things will realise that this is a post about re-desecration regeneration of Swindon. Yet another development has been described using the developers’ favourite term “vibrant”. This time it’s the few remaining open spaces within the former railway works that’s now, apparently, renamed “Churchward Village”. Thomas Homes are redeveloping the area occupied by the railway works traverser, which has been labelled “Smith’s Quarter”. In their own words,
Thomas Homes is bringing new life to the former locomotive works of the Great Western Railway as part of an extensive regeneration project to include an urban residential development of apartments and houses, leisure facilities, restaurants, hotel accommodation and office suites which will provide a vibrant community in the heart of Swindon.
I’m not sure what a “vibrant community” is. According to my dictionary, “vibrant” means “vibrating, thrilling with (action, etc.); resonant.” A vibrating community sounds to me like one in need of medical attention. Perhaps they’ll be shaking after a visit to the “vibrant” redeveloped town centre… though somehow I doubt it. A big television and a shopping centre with new canopies are hardly likely to have them overcome with emotion.
It’s also difficult to see just what in this new development is going to contribute to the vitality of the town. It’s just more flats, 245 of them. With flats leading the fall in property prices they’re unlikely to be “integral to the regeneration of Swindon” as the developer’s consultants claim. Mr Brotherton of Thomas Homes makes some equally unrealistic claims.
Churchward Village is a superb development in a great location surrounded by listed buildings. It is also something completely different for Swindon, bringing character close to the town centre… it’s bringing something new to Swindon.
Let’s hope Mr Bretherton has a better grasp of construction and economics than he does of design and novelty. Yet more flats, and fairly bland looking flats at that, will neither be something new nor bring character to Swindon.