Tuesday, November 13, 2018

An Outlet for Poor Planning Permission

The discounting of Rodbourne and Even Swindon residents complaints about the Outlet Village traffic could only last so long and has recently come to a head.

In the stock-comment by councillors, plenty of room is always made for not wanting to make changes that will ruin the Outlet's success.

One blindingly obvious point about the traffic problems that comes right back to the council's involvement, is never mentioned. Namely that Swindon Borough Council councillors signed-off the continued expansion of the Outlet and the former Works site through planning applications, and ultimately the accompanying transport and traffic plans.

After several years of near-gridlock at busy times that blocks roads not just nearby, but also into the centre of town, the west and north, plus major disruption to bus services, an easily-deployable traffic plan is only now being discussed.

Swindoncentric will provide one for free. When the Outlet's car parks are full, close them and direct drivers to Bristol Street or to the Brunel Centre's car parks. Needless queues are created by drivers waiting at the ticket barriers, then driving around to find no spaces and queuing to leave. Plus, deploy traffic marshals on Rodbourne Road, Kemble Drive, Paddington and Penzance Drives to keep traffic moving and more specifically bus services.

Christmas is just around the corner, crack on.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Top Ten Things Overheard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 444

Click here for the original at this brilliant idea, here's our own version for Swindon's buses from last week.

10. They swept it right into my direction.

9. That seat is the prize seat, second only to the driver's.

8. I waited so long and eventually it happened and it was so quick.

7. You always ask that about my opinion, but I might as well not have one.

6. There was a milky-hue to it, not nice if you're lactose afraid.

5. I presume you nodded politely and left like a shot?

4. The injury was not as terrible to get as you think.

3. I saved your space, but then this happened once we got to the shops.

2. The record of my sales have been sent as far as Telford, I couldn't believe it.

And the number one overheard phrase on Swindon's buses from last week is...

1. I did quite well, I didn't get zombie eyes when he was talking to me.

Overheard something we've missed? Then let us know.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

In Swindon it's too unaffordable to build affordable houses

There was cause for hope when Swindon Borough Council said they were setting up their own housing company. At last, SBC could borrow money at historically low levels, build houses and either rent them (at council housing rates) and/or sell them on the private market. The privately-sold could have returned a profit and helped to pay for the new council houses.

But, of course, that would be too easy.

Instead SBC have built just seven houses, in 18 months of existence.

They do have a plan to build 14 houses in Shaw. Cynical residents say the original plan from the company was to build 16 houses, but that has been reduced as it realised that the plan would legally have to include affordable housing. But as we know all too well with SBC, everything, is always about the money.

Just to hammer-home that point, further sites around town identified for fill-in development by the housing company are due to be sold-off to developers, rather than done in-house.

Will there be a line in the sale contract to make sure the companies who buy the land will develop it in a short period of time and not land bank the purchase and simply fuel the housing shortage?

Of course not, this is all about the money!

- No strict control on design standards by doing it yourself.

- No new council houses to replace those being sold.

- No steady flow of new builds that the council can control.

At least they can use the money to rebrand themselves 'Swindon Housing Land Company'

How vibrant!

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Top Ten Things Overheard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 443

Click here for the original at this brilliant idea, here's our own version for Swindon's buses from last week.

10. He put on the hat with the flower in it.

9. I thought all of these shoes were your husband's.

8. We only got as far as question one, it's going to take forever.

7. She took my name and didn't bother.

6. No that'll lead us to a dead end that other drivers have vanished into, never to return.

5. As a child, I remember being quite philosophical.

4. I think you've just got a common face.

3. They'll be in open revolt, mark my words.

2. If they're as good as they claim to be, why are the playing in Mark's back room?

And the number one overheard phrase on Swindon's buses from last week is...

1. I only watch the X Factor now for the adverts.

Overheard something we've missed? Then let us know.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Top Ten Things Overheard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 442

Click here for the original at this brilliant idea, here's our own version for Swindon's buses from last week.

10. It was giant, like the size of a bus, but a really big one.

9. The responsibility lies fairly and squarely with him, not that it'd be noticed.

8. I had eaten loads of chocolate and felt so sick it lasted three days.

7. Tell me it's all about the ego and nothing else.

6. I take her out for a drink, buy her something and give her money, but that's just normal.

5. Keep perspective on it, you're only talking about moss.

4. They cleared out his cupboards and all he got left with was money off vouchers.

3. I thought I could just fall back on my old fashioned tricks.

2. You don't know just how good you look do you, you really don't.

And the number one overheard phrase on Swindon's buses from last week is...

1. There's no option to him sleeping up there, he's only two, I'd never take the risk.

Overheard something we've missed? Then let us know.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Top Ten Things Overheard On Swindon's Buses Last Week ; 441

Click here for the original at this brilliant idea, here's our own version for Swindon's buses from last week.

10. Keep on like this and you'll get taken to hell on the dual carriageway.

9. I haven't seen him since he was dressed up as a drag queen.

8. You can't spell it that way any more, Google doesn't let you.

7. I know you like chutney more than me.

6. That car has been parked in that exact spot since before Kerry was born.

5. Oh I'll still have shorts on until at least twelfth night I reckon.

4. If he keeps this up his wife will leave him, and then his problems really start.

3. Just because you can afford all this stuff, it doesn't mean it's worth it.

2. No, those buses are mainly made out of old buses, it's all melted down and used again, including the drivers.

And the number one overheard phrase on Swindon's buses from last week is...

1. At some point the family are going to find out and they're going to never speak to you ever again.

Overheard something we've missed? Then let us know.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Backwards, to go Forward, Swindon

The long slow death of Forward Swindon has finally been confirmed.


No-one was surprised. But who has most to gain from it?

The optimist would say, the people of Swindon. The pessimist would say the new Cabinet member responsible for Town Centre regeneration.

There does seem to be a dividing line between the eras of the former Cabinet member, Councillor Perkins and Councillor Heenan.

The Perkins era was known for it's constant stream of optimistic words, staggeringly-slow physical on-the-ground change and constant questions about accountability.

The Heenan era will no doubt see a continuation of these to greater and lesser extents, depending on whether developers, specifically in the town centre, bring the private money that is constantly talked about, but seldom seen.

The end for Forward Swindon seems to have been marked by the tearing-up of the development agreement on Kimmerfields by the council. Plus the subtle changes on the FS website's Kimmerfields page that a development plan would be this autumn, has now become a 'movement strategy' to be 'developed in late 2018' and a plan for the new bus station to be 'finalised in early 2019'.

Reading between the lines, it's easy to see that the Kimmerfields (originally called Union Square) plan will be much different to what was originally proposed. 600,000 square feet of office space was the original plan, made up of half a dozen plots, most of them two or three buildings grouped around central courtyards. These would have had retail space on the ground floors and office space on the upper floors. Some upper floors would have been flats, plus a hotel and multi-storey carpark (maybe without crumbling terracota).

With Councillor Perkins comment that a business wants 100,000 square feet of office at Kimmerfields, that means the site would include fewer, but bigger buildings, that throws off entirely the original plan. 

If the traffic plan needs revising, then maybe Councillor Perkins admission that the new bus station would have no more bays than there currently is on Fleming Way and at the current bus station, will also be revised? He also admitted that there would be no room for additional bays for future bus growth, and that the bus companies would not agree to the plan if it didn't work. In that case, Thamesdown and Stagecoach should set their handbrakes and demand extra space, they may not get another chance to say so.

The business after the 100,000 square feet, is it a new business? A current one that's already in the town and who simply wants newer more up to date office space? Swindon Centric will not reveal!

What the new economic development team in SBC needs to be careful of is what happened to The Parade development, where the headlines were all about the new shiny BHS store to replace the old. Less was said about the new BHS store reducing their floorspace compared to the old store. In a sense a consolidation of investment, rather than an increase in it.

Replacing old buildings for new ones of similar size and use, is simply allowing the town centre to tread water. The replacing of the Wyvern Theatre carpark with the Whalebridge carpark is another expensive example of what essentially is maintenance of current facilities, not an investment to giving the town greater things.

For Kimmerfields to work, the SBC team need to persuade other businesses in on the back of the 100,000 square feet business.

Councillor Heenan being busy with his Sim City in east Swindon could work to the SBC team's advantage. They might be able to get to work on Kimmerfields without someone getting the crayons out and drawing all over the white hoardings.