Monday 22nd November 2010
NEARLY 500 people have so far signed a petition calling for an ugly concrete space at Cavendish Square to be properly surfaced.
The concrete patch – the former site of the Co-op – was meant to be developed with new retail units as part of the centre’s regeneration but has remained empty due to a lack of interest from potential tenants.
Now the Parks and East Walcot Forum wants the landowner, Leehampton Developments, to tidy up the eyesore to improve the appearance of the area until the market picks up.
And the community group also wants Swindon Council to lobby the developer to ensure it happens.
Chairman Martin Wicks said:
“We feel that the council has a responsibility in the interests of the people who live in the area at the very least to pressurise the developer to do what the council said it was going to do and which was to surface that area so it doesn’t look like a derelict building site.
Instead of improving the area, the regeneration, such as it is, has worsened the environment for local people.
It drags the area down – it makes a mockery of the very idea of regeneration. The general feeling of local people is something needs to be done.”
A three-phase project was started in 2006 to redevelop Cavendish Square with new homes and retail units. The final stage was to construct a covered parade on the site of the old Co-op.
However the site – now used as an temporary car park – has remained undeveloped for more than 18 months because of insufficient interest from businesses in renting the premises.
Residents say the concrete area drags the square down because it looks unsightly, is covered with litter and floods when it rains.
They say that, according to a council newsletter in December 2008, this area was meant to be ‘covered in tarmac and left clear’.
The forum started the petition about three weeks ago and has already collected about 480 signatures.
Coun Mark Dempsey (Lab, Parks) said:
“I’m fully supportive of the petition and the concerns of the residents because for shoppers it is a real eyesore, it doesn’t attract them to the square. For the shop owners it’s really bringing the square down and deters people from coming to it. And for residents and councillors, Cavendish Square is the heart of our community and at the moment this is a scar at the heart of our community.”
A Swindon Council spokesman said: “We are more than happy to raise residents’ concerns with the developer who owns the land, but that is as much as the council can do. The economic downturn means it’s not been possible for the developer to get enough interest from retailers to build the scheme, but we hope that will change in the future.”
Leehampton Developments was unavailable for comment.
Copies of the petition can be found at The Shop in Cavendish Square or online at https://cavisquare.wordpress.com