Client and project.

A new building for regeneration of the existing tented market site in Swindon consisting of 5 A5 units and 101 flats over 6-7 Floors with a slender tower of 15 storeys for CJV Properties Ltd.

Project location

Market Street Swindon Wilts

Project History

Following a lengthy process which began in 2008 when our client, CJV Properties first lodged an application to replace the Tented Market in Market Street, Swindon which was built on the former Swindon Market site and constructed in 1994. Following refusal of that scheme, NC Architects were approached by the client in November 2015 with the aim of obtaining a consent for a development of 5 restaurants. After much negotiation with the council planners our scheme of 4 Restaurants and a coffee shop went to committee in June 2016 with a recommendation for approval.

A very strong lobby by local traders at the planning committee resulted in our scheme being refused. We advised our clients to appeal and the planning inspector agreed with our statement of case and granted consent for the scheme in November 2016, commenting on the high quality of our design and awarded costs against the council.

However the appeal decision did not maximise the site value and following a review with the client, we approached the planners to suggest that rather than implementing the appeal decision we develop a scheme containing a landmark building facing Farnsby Street and offering improvements to the public realm, kick-starting the regeneration of the town centre. We produced some sketches which were discussed and presented to a number of councillors including the ward councillor Bob Wright.

The principles of the scheme were discussed late in 2016 and some encouragement was given to us to work the scheme up further. We met again in early 2017 having made a significant changes to the design which incorporated a twelve storey circular tower and following further discussions with the councillors and officers we agreed to further refine this and to present the scheme to the South West Design review panel and we also mounted an exhibition lasting two weeks in the Central Library.

The South West Design review panel met was chaired by the highly respected Architect, Professor Peter Clegg and while the panel was supportive of the scheme in principle they were concerned by the apparent bulk of the upper floors and made suggestions as to how we might address their concerns.

We discussed this with our client and persuaded them that we should redesign the scheme further to address them. The public exhibition elicited just 25 comments: These included 2 that were irrelevant to the proposal, 7 related to the loss of the market, which were not material given the appeal decision, 3 questioned the proposed A1/A3 uses which were irrelevant given that permission already existed for its demolition and replacement, 2 related to a lack of car parking provision, but were actually compliant with the council’s own parking standards and policy for Town Centre redevelopment.

Relevant comments included reminders of the Victorian context, which is reflected in the approved scheme. Some comments believed the building was too large for the site (principally related to the tower) while others disliked the appearance, both of which are subjective views. The South West DRP disagreed strongly and were supportive of the improvements to the scheme following the design workshop have submitted evidence to back the proposals to prove that 101 dwellings can be accommodated while meeting the advice given by the panel and by officers of the council. We concluded that the most relevant comments were those which concern the scale, design and massing of the building which effectively echo those of the DRP.

The building was subsequently redesigned to reduce its bulk, provide a slimmer tower, improve the public realm potential, amend some of the materials to harmonise with the surrounding Victorian properties and reduce the amount of circulation space all with the aim of adopting the guidance of the South West design review panel and improving the viability of the scheme.

The revised scheme was submitted to planning committee on October 10th where a resolution to grant planning consent subject to an agreed S106 agreement was approved. We have been engaged on the 106 negotiation since.