A guide looking at serviced offices and office space for rent in Swindon as well as providing general information that may be useful if you are considering renting office space in the town.
History & Geography
Swindon is located among the rolling chalk hills of the Wiltshire Downs in South West England, approximately halfway between Reading and Bristol. The town is bordered by the River Ray to the west along with its tributary the River Cole, and to the north by the Vale of White Horse. While there is evidence of habitation in the area during the Bronze Age, it was only during the Roman occupation of Britain that Swindon became a permanent settlement. As with many towns in England, Swindon grew up around a Roman military outpost, thriving off trade with the Legionnaires. After the departure of the Romans the area surrounding Swindon became a battleground between Romano-British forces and the Saxons. Eventually the Saxons were victorious and many settled in the area. Swindon continued to grow and by the time of the Norman invasion in the 11th century was a sizable town. In 1259 the town held its first market under the auspices of William de Valence, the Earl of Pembroke. Swindon’s economy during this time relied on agriculture, with many sheep farms, as well as cattle operations located in the area. During the 18th century quarrying also became a bulwark of the local economy. With the advent of the 19th century and the canals and railroads that came with it, Swindon’s economy bloomed and its population swelled rapidly. The path of the Great Western Railway through Swindon, built by the famous Isambard Kingdom Brunel, transformed the town from a quiet market town to a Railway town with more people and transformed infrastructure. The town continued to grow and during WWII was a major staging post for the military. After the war the town’s population expanded still more and extensive housing estates were built to deal with the boom. Today Swindon is one of the most prosperous towns in the region after a concerted regeneration effort. It serves as a transportation hub as well as a centre of trade and retail.
Traditionally the main economies around Swindon have been agriculture, quarrying and the railways. However the Great Western Railway Works shut down in the late 1980s and today the town has a mainly service and retail based economy. The Brunel Centre and the Parade are two of the largest shopping centres in the region and the McArthur Glenn Designer Outlet, for reduced price clothes, brings visitors from all around the region. Among the major employers in Swindon is Honda, which has a car manufacturing plant in the area, and BMW Mini, which also has a site around Swindon. Mobile phone giant Motorola is a large employer, as is Dolby Labs. Halcrow Group Limited, the internationally-renowned engineering firm, also has a large presence in Swindon. The banking sector is represented by HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest, Barclays and Handelsbanken. The town benefits from excellent transport links to London and the rest of the UK, which is part of the reason many multinationals have chosen to base themselves there. Swindon is often used by market researchers in the UK as the demographics of its residents are an almost perfect representative sample of the country’s population as a whole. Swindon also has the honour of being statistically the second-safest place to live in the UK after Guildford, Surrey.
Swindon has a thriving cultural scene for a town of its size. Live music is very popular in Swindon and several venue including The Beehive, Riffs, The 12 Bar, the Furnace and the Victoria regularly host acts. The Oasis Leisure Centre, an entertainment and sports complex regularly hosts concerts and inspired the name of the Manchester band Oasis. The Wyvern Theatre is home to Swindon’s drama scene, and also screens films and comedy acts. Many visitors come to Swindon for the festivals it regularly hosts like the Swindon Festival of Literature and the Swindon Mela, a celebration of South Indian arts and culture which attracts on average 10,000 visitors every year. Since 2010 Swindon has been the location of the Big Arts Day, a celebration of the arts which attracted more than 20,000 people in 2011. The event is held at Lydiard County Park, Swindon’s largest green space. Swindon is also home to Swindon Town FC which play from the County Ground located near the town centre.
Since the town’s birth, at the junction of two Roman roads, transportation has always been an important part of Swindon’s identity. The town has two junctions onto the M4 motorway and is on the ex-GWR mainline to the capital. The town itself is served by a comprehensive bus network operated by Stagecoach and Thamesdown. Of late a car sharing scheme has become very popular in Swindon and currently has more than 300,000 members. The town is well known for its roundabouts, particularly the so-called Magic Roundabout which is unique in that it is actually five roundabouts in one, featuring a contra-rotational hub.
Swindon has a fairly diversified office market with space both downtown and in the surrounding area in office parks. Over the last two years demand has been gradually increasing. Currently the only Grade A office space in the town centre is in Station Square, which has been freshly refurbished. There are however plans in the pipeline to develop the nearby Union Square. The rest of central Swindon has something of an oversupply of sub-grade space. Renters in Swindon usually enjoy good incentives due to the amount of empty secondary space in the town. Headline rents are currently GBP 15.75 per square foot in the town centre and GBP 18.5 per square foot out of town.