After years of failed promises and delays, the Labour Group has called on Swindon Council to terminate their development agreement with Muse on the Kimmerfields site.
The Kimmerfields development was due to provide a substantially sized public open square and a series of new streets surrounded by retail and leisure space, a hotel, a new bus interchange, office space and new homes (including affordable units), delivered over a number of phases. The Council said overall investment in the site from Muse would be in the region of £300m.
The Muse developers were granted initial planning permission to develop the Kimmerfields site back in 2012 however to date they have provided no private investment in to developing the site. Muse and the Council also agreed delays to targets set in the original Development Agreement which enabled MUSE to avoid lapsing on their original commitments.
So far all of the investment spent on the MUSE development has been public money, either from Swindon Council, the Housing & Communities Agency or the Local Enterprise Partnership.
Though the delays in the Council meeting its Compulsory Purchase Order commitments had meant Muse hadn’t needed to meet its Development Agreement commitments, since the Council met this commitment there has been no sign that MUSE have the investment ready to kickstart the Kimmerfields development.
The lack of progress on the Kimmerfields development has also come under criticism from Swindon's two MPs this week.
The Leader of the Labour Group, Councillor Jim Grant, said:
“The Labour Group believe now is the time for the Council to depart with Muse in order to enable them to look at other private sector investors who have the capability and interest to invest in the town centre.
Muse have been hiding from properly investing in the town centre for too long and there is a general belief across the Council that Muse will not be able to meet their development obligations agreed with Swindon Council. Anything other than the Council terminating their deal with Muse would signal they have no intention in regenerating the town centre in the near future.
Ultimately, Muse has been yet another failed private sector partner of Swindon Council. After the failed Moirai deal at the Oasis, for Muse to stall town centre development aswell has been a big let-down for Swindon. This is why drastic action is needed. We cannot wait any longer for the redevelopment of our town centre.”