Client and project

A new building consisting of 5 A5 units and 101 flats over 12 storeys. In Swindon town centre on the existing Market site for CIP Ltd.

Project location

Farnsby Street
Swindon
Wilts

Project History

Following a lengthy process which started in 2008 when our client CJV Properties lodged an application in that year to replace the Tented Market in Market Street, Swindon which was built on the former 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. 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 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.

However the appeal decision did not maximise the site value and we approached the planners to suggest that we develop a scheme containing a landmark building facing Farnsby Street and improvements to the public realm. We produced some sketches which were discussed and presented to a number of councillors including the ward councillor.

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 we agreed to further refine this and present the scheme to the South West Design review panel and we exhibited the scheme in the Central Library.

The South West Design review panel met was lead 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 they supported our redesign to address them.

The public exhibition elicited just 25 comments:

  • 2 comments were irrelevant to the proposal.
  • 7 comments related to the loss of the market, and 3 comments question the proposed A1/A3 uses both of which are irrelevant given that permission already exists for its demolition and replacement.
  • 2 comments relate to a lack of car parking provision, but the proposal complies with the council’s own parking standards and policy for Town Centre redevelopment.

These 11 comments can therefore be disregarded.

  • 1 comment reminds us of the Victorian context, which is entirely relevant and has now been addressed in the current scheme.
  • 6 comments believe the building is too large for the site while 6 dislike the appearance, both of which are subjective views. The South West DRP disagree strongly and we 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.

These 7 comments have therefore been considered.

  • 6 comments were supportive of the proposals

 We concluded that the most relevant comments were those which concern the scale, design and massing of the building which echo those of the DRP.

 The building has been redesigned substantially 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.

 The revised scheme was submitted for planning approval and validated on the 27th April 2017. We await the outcome…………