The Business Exchange Swindon & Wiltshire Edition 61: June/July 2022 - Page 8

SHAPING OUR AREA ' S FUTURE

A NEW LOOK FOR SWINDON & WILTSHIRE

By Fiona Scott
An overview of some major construction projects which will change the landscape of our community over the coming years .
When change comes into a community we can almost always predict some of the responses to that change , there will be voices both for and against .
When it comes to major construction projects it requires a vision of the future to plan for growth . It requires some crystal ball gazing , backed by data , into what might be coming down the road and there are individuals and organisations who will be part of predicting that vision .
This includes local authorities , statutory organisations and business organisations doing their best to work in partnership to get those projects to fruition . There will be political implications along the line and other challenges to overcome .
Here are some important facts to consider about our business community when we consider those projects which ‘ probably ’ will be part of our future landscape :
• Swindon has one of the best performing economies in the UK , it ’ s the economic heart of Wiltshire and its population of about 213,000 is expected to rise by about 22 per cent over the next few years .
• As a result , Swindon and Wiltshire is one of the top five business locations in England .
• Around 59 per cent of the county ’ s population is of working age ( 16 to 64 ).
• The county generates £ 21 billion towards the UK economy
annually , 15 per cent to the economy of the South West and one per cent to the English economy .
• There are 29,000 businesses here and , of those , 98 per cent are SMEs ( less than 250 employees ).
• Growth has been quite static for some years and the pandemic has affected our economy and our contribution overall .
It ’ s these factors which help to inform those who are responsible for driving through new projects with the overall aim of improving the prosperity of our community .

New projects and a few on the horizon

• The new Porton Down Science Park – budget of over £ 39m , already open with construction of an innovation centre which will be open later this year .
• A new Business Cyber Centre in Chippenham , built with a budget of more than £ 3m and it has just opened .
• Sticking with Chippenham there have been various works on A350 to improve traffic flow and dual carriage works ( budget over £ 10m ) alongside the major housebuilding at Birds Marsh View and a new industrial area St Modwen Park at junction 17 .
• A new civic centre and police station in Tidworth planned with a budget of over £ 7m where work has just started .
• The delayed Mead Way roadworks in Swindon which were due for completion in September 2020 and which are still ongoing . The original price tag of £ 5m will now be around £ 6m . It ’ s one of several road infrastructure projects in and around the town .
• Plans for new railway station in Devizes – at a very early stage however , if successful , work should start in 2025 .
• Stonehenge – to tunnel or not to tunnel ? That project due to start later this year has now become stuck due to a High Court ruling which declared a proper process had not been followed . National Highways want to build a small tunnel underneath to reduce congestion and that ’ s caused controversy and a legal challenge .
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