Tag: Wharf Green

Fantasy worlds

It’s difficult to decide which is least believable. First there’s LDA Design making over-the-top claims for Wharf Green (You can either read the original press release, or its recycled form in the Adver).

The square has given a real boost to the town centre and its ambitious long-term plans for regeneration.

Or the even more ridiculous claims in their submission to The Civic Trust’s awards.

Wharf Green provides a first impression for many visitors, and this scheme has redeveloped the area to provide a new town centre square, meeting and public performance space. A large scale timber façade serves to both integrate a large TV screen and conceal an unattractive car park, making the area more welcoming. The landscaping has softened a large space and encourages people in to make use of this improved public space.

The only visitors for whom Wharf Green would provide a first impression of Swindon are those arriving by parachute, blindfolded. And in what way has digging up the old flower beds and replacing them with an uninterrupted expanse of paving stones ‘softened a large space’? Developer hyperbole, one; reality nil.

But move to the edge of town and the claims, this time by the campaigners, are no more realistic. There, the Jefferies Land Conservation Trust has wild claims for the potential that a few stones indicate for the area near Coate Water.

There is a real chance here to create almost a mini-Avebury…. Whilst not on the scale of Avebury, it is so exciting to know that Coate is steeped in similar pre-history…. It would be criminal to surround these ancient relics of the past with modern buildings.

That’s not on the same scale as Avebury in the way that Swindon isn’t on the same scale as London, or that Coate Water isn’t on the same scale as Lake Windermere.

Developers and environmental campaigners are often opposed to each other, but when it comes to having a grasp on reality, both are equally out-of-touch.

A remembrance too many

Perhaps it’s just been poorly presented, but the plan by the inSwindon company to run a remembrance event in Wharf Green at the same time as the main remembrance ceremony at the memorial in Regents Circus seems inappropriate. If it is, as inSwindon claim ‘a very simple event’ then it might be reasonable — an opportunity for busy people to take some time to remember, without the formality of a normal remembrance ceremony. But that’s not the way it appears. An event with bagpipes, poetry readings and a parade is beyond being ‘very simple’.

Remembrance events should be primarily for remembrance, not to promote the latest town centre redevelopment.

Big screen, small crowd

As mentioned in the comments to the Adver’s story and as apparent in the Beeb’s photo gallery of the launch of the big screen in Wharf Green, the crowd was small. Some may say that’s because of the timing (Friday afternoon) or the lack of publicity. However, both the small crowd and lack of publicity suggest that the town’s people have not been deceived by the hype that continues to follow the big screen.

This will instil a sense of civic pride in the people of Swindon.

There are many that criticise Swindon and its people. The lack of interest in this event shows that the aspirations of the people of Swindon and their perception of what would instil civic pride are above what the Beeb’s Mr Burnett-Godfree, and others who have over-promoted the big screen, would have us believe.

I also note from the comments to the Adver’s story that someone with pretensions (albeit fanciful) to represent South Swindon in parliament, has obviously not visited the town centre for a long time, nor followed the local news on which he chooses to comment.

There’s something on the telly!

The BBC Big Screen Swindon in Wharf Green has now been switched on, with workmen busily filling in the remaining gaps in the paving. This must now be one of the most inappropriately named places in Swindon, being named after a wharf that disappeared almost a hundred years ago, and now bereft of almost all greenery. As for the screen itself, the newly planted row of trees (to make up for some of those cut down last year) help obscure it from Canal Walk. Having now seen the screen working, I remain of the opinion that it will not live up to the hype. It’s a welcome addition to the town centre, but nothing stunning.
There’s something in the way!That’s a lot of wood there

Premature recycling

I have previously commented on some of the trees being cut down in Wharf Green. The felled trees are now to be put to use, as art. Mr Bluh thinks this is recycling.

These artists have come up with a really imaginative way to use wood – they are leading the recycling agenda in the area and supporting regeneration at the same time. It’s great to see.

Allow me to quote from the Compact Oxford English Dictionary.

recycle
• verb 1
convert (waste) into reusable material. 2 use again.

Whilst it is certainly better than just burning the logs, if an item hasn’t been used before, then it isn’t recycling as most would perceive it. As to whether it’s great to see, I’ll reserve judgement on that until I have seen the products of the artists’ work.

Enthusiasm

I find the level of enthusiasm exhibited by Swindon Borough Council’s leader Mr Bluh and the New Swindon Company’s chief executive Mr James in their video interview with SwindonWeb quite remarkable, commendable… and cringe-inducing.

The big screen will be a major attraction for Swindon, the only one in the south of England…. You get that feeling when things are right, and this feels right for this location.

Hmm… Mr Bluh may have that feeling but the feeling I get is distinctly different. I just cannot believe that a big BBC screen in Wharf Green will be a popular meeting point for visitors to Swindon, as Mr James seems to think. An attraction maybe, but a meeting point?

[We’ve got to] make a place that people can meet and sit down and say, well lets meet at Wharf Green, by the big screen, because we understand there’s something going on there.

One other thought. Is SwindonWeb’s Ms Heber-Smith not subject to health and safety laws? I see that she alone is not wearing a high-visibility jacket in the interview on what is a construction site.

Seeing the bigger picture

If the chief executive of the New Swindon Company is to be believed, Swindon being the home of one of nine BBC Big Screens will have a miraculous effect on the town’s standing.

Hosting the only screen in the South will propel Swindon’s image to a national level. This new development will start to create that lively bustle that has been absent for so long.

Really? I wasn’t aware of the locations of the eight existing screens. (Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Hull, Rotherham and Derby, according to the press release — it seems the New Swindon Company cannot count.) I don’t recall any of those towns having their image propelled anywhere by the presence of am oversized TV. And in what way does people gawping at a big screen create ‘bustle’? Some of the other claims are just as far-fetched.

Wharf Green will also provide Swindon with a focal point for 2012 lead up activities, and events, that are planned once London takes over the mantle of Olympic City

I thought the intention was to use the Olympics to encourage people to participate in sport. It seems the aim in Swindon will be to create a community of full-on couch potatoes.