Robert's Weekly Column - 28th March 2018

Housing and transport issues are very much to the fore at present, so I was pleased to welcome Housing Minister, Dominic Raab to Swindon on Thursday. During the visit, Council Leader David Renard spoke about the various housing projects taking place across our town.

The Housing Minister visited Middle Wichel where a partnership between Taylor Wimpey and Swindon Borough Council will see around 2,750 new homes being built, as well as a pub and other amenities.

The restoration of the Wiltshire and Berks canal will be key to providing a strong heart to the 250 hectare development built to the South of Swindon and during the initial stages, the development is expected to support around 1,000 jobs.

Dominic also visited the £10m development in Sussex Square where the council has provided a total of 48 new, modern affordable homes, which was supported with £750,000 of grant funding from the Government’s Home and Communities Agency. 

Sussex Place, which was completed by Wilmott Dixon on behalf of Swindon Borough Council, was awarded the best social or affordable new housing development at the Local Authority Building Control West of England Building Awards 2017.

Swindon Borough Council was commended for its strong leadership and the huge strides the council is taking in terms of development.

On Friday, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling came to town to see some of our road projects for himself, and I used the opportunity to discuss future projects with him too.  Last month, the Government awarded our town £11.5m from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to speed up building in two major development areas.

The New Eastern Villages (NEV) received a £5m boost, which will be used to build a new link under the Great Western Railway line and provide a direct route into the proposed Rowborough development from the A420.

Rowborough forms part of the New Eastern Villages, which will consist of around 2,380 homes built on a site to the north of the A420. The link will provide essential access to the site. An additional £6.5m has been awarded to the new Kingsdown Bridge project, which will allow a further 1,650 houses to be built.

There was further welcome news as the bid for the Southern Relief Road was also shortlisted for funding from the Department of Transport’s Local Growth Fund last week.  The road will provide a new link road between the New Eastern Villages (NEV) and Commonhead roundabout, relieving demand on the existing roads to the North.

We also received further good news on potholes, with an extra £270,000 coming to Swindon from the Government to help pay for immediate repairs.  This is yet another year of extra funding to help sort out those bumps and holes that get worse in the winter.

I was honoured to be invited to present winning certificates at the Pride of Swindon Awards last week.  Every year, this excellent event shines a spotlight on the many deserving unsung heroes in our town.  I was particularly pleased to see Swindon Seniors Forum amongst the winners as they were recognised for their work with the elderly communities within the town.  I have worked closely with this local group over the years, as part of my campaign to tackle loneliness in the town.  Following a successful Loneliness Summit held last July with Swindon Seniors Forum, we will be holding a follow-up event next month.

I would like to thank all of those nominated, as well as all of those who won a Pride of Swindon Award.  It is the myriad of volunteers that make our town such a special place to be.