The Frank Whittle Partnership (FWP) has won the contract to manage the complete redevelopment of Swindon Town’s County Ground.
FWP, one of the North West’s leading architecture and design practices, will use the blueprint from its acclaimed work on Deepdale, home to Preston North End, to transform Swindon Town and turn its stadium into a profitable and sustainable 24/7 hub for business, leisure and public use without building up debt.
Deepdale not only retained a sense of character and identity when it was rebuilt, but also plays home to a health centre, an outside catering business, a college outreach centre, club offices and a public gym. The National Football Museum was secured as the anchor tenant at the beginning of the redevelopment.
All of those generate much-needed income for the club, something FWP’s Managing Director David Robinson believes is vital in these tough economic times, and FWP will work with Swindon Town to help find occupants for the County Ground.
The sustainable redevelopment ethos of FWP is particularly well suited to Swindon Town after their 1-0 defeat to Milwall in the play-offs will see them remain in League One for at least another season.
Speaking of their strategy David Robinson said: “You need 24/7 activity around a football ground, with other companies and organisations using it, and rent being paid to the club.
“Quite rightly, Swindon Town do not want to saddle themselves with large debts through this redevelopment and so need an income of regular rent. We will help them find that.
“At Deepdale a health authority facility is located there which generates a significant rent. A lot of companies in our line of business look to just come in and design things rather than identify what should go in it.
“One of the reasons we are very successful is that our experience is in all sectors – health, leisure, education, residential – and we use this in the design of multi-use facilities.”
Nick Watkins, Swindon Town chief executive, said: “We appointed the Frank Whittle Partnership to do phase one, which is the whole financial feasibility and commercial viability test, and that is a 14-week programme which will continue throughout the summer.”
Town’s board of directors hope to submit plans to the council by the end of this phase, and Nick Watkins believes FWP are the perfect partners to work alongside the club.
“There were a number of considerations that we took into account,” he explained.
“Firstly, they have a very good pedigree and have also done some interesting work on in-situ redevelopment, like the Deepdale Stadium at Preston North End, and minimised the amount of disturbance while that is taking place.
“They weren’t the only people who had done that, but they had done it in a style which was akin to what we are thinking of doing here.
“The other thing that impressed us about FWP was the whole attention to cost management. They recognise that the scope and scale of this redevelopment isn’t the Emirates or a Millennium Stadium.
“It is a sensible, relatively modest redevelopment programme where cost management is going to be crucial, and so their whole emphasis on that area was important.
“The other consideration with them was that they were quite commercially alert to the need to find funding for these types of redevelopment programmes, and that part of their remit would be to be active in identifying potential users of the redeveloped stadium.”
For more information on FWP Limited and the service they provide call them on 01772 259824, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.fwpgroup.co.uk.