Tiles on the exterior of a major car park in downtown Swindon will be replaced with reports of crashes and falls. There have been bollards around Wellbridge’s multi-storey car park on the corner of Princess Street and Fleming Way for years since cracks began to appear in the tiled terra-cotta tiles outside. Many of these tiles were broken and posed a great danger to passersby.
The first crack appeared in 2018 just five years after the opening of the car park, which cost Swindon Borough Council £12.4m. Now, four years later, the board has been given planning permission to replace all clay tiles with aluminum fins.
The council’s request to its planning departments stated: “Replacing the existing terracotta fins/cladding on all exterior elevations of the multi-storey car park with extruded aluminum fins/cladding of similar color (powdered terracotta), designs and dimensions.
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“Existing terracotta/cladding fins have failed (cracked/splintered) as a result of frost damage caused by a fault in the initial design. They are currently unsafe and unsightly. The proposed aluminum alternatives would be more weatherproof, stronger, and more aesthetically pleasing when compared to existing fins. Failed”.
Councilor Kevin Barry, Cabinet Member of the Swindon Borough Board of Service, Waste and Transportation, said: “It has taken a long time to resolve the car park’s cladding issues due to the complex nature of negotiations with the contractors involved. However, we are pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement to replace the mud fins. In the car park at no cost to the council, and in addition, a significant contribution to our administrative and legal costs will be made.
“The legal drafting of the settlement agreement is about to be finalized so we cannot comment further at this point as everything is still ‘subject to contract.’ We still need to finalize some technical details with the contractor, but we hope that work will begin to implement the improvements later in this general”.
Parking was one of the initial pillars of the council’s ambitious plans to renovate that area of the city and connect the business district north of Fleming Road to the main shopping district. At its opening, Coun Garry Perkins, then a downtown cabinet member, described the car park as an investment in the future and the first part of Kimmerfields projects.
He added, “It was built for the 3,000 jobs that will come when it’s all over. If we don’t, Swindon will become an economic stagnant.”
As Zurich’s new headquarters in Kimmerfields nears completion, and work begins on Bus Boulevard in Fleming Way, Whalebridge’s multi-storey repairs may be seen in time. The council has previously received criticism for the time it took to implement reforms.
In 2019, former Mayor Janab Ali, whose central pavilion covers the area, said: “It’s a complete mess. The car park only opened a few years ago and tiles are falling off. It was sold to the people of Swindon as a solution to all our problems. It was a total waste of millions of pounds in money. taxpayers”.
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