Swindon AdvertiserPlease don’t waste it (From Swindon Advertiser)

Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text SWINDON NEWS to 80360 or email us

Please don’t waste it

Swindon Advertiser: Martha Parry outside the old Victorian college Martha Parry outside the old Victorian college

A LOCAL heritage group has criticised plans to convert a historic building into flats, saying not enough thought has been given to alternative options.

Swindon Civic Voice has said there are better uses for the former college building on Victoria Road after a planning application to convert it into apartments was lodged last month.

The group also says the current state of the dilapidated building is a sign of how little care it has been shown.

Chairwoman Martha Parry said: “This is a building which is central to the history and development of Swindon.

“We can put flats or apartments in any old building but this is something which you could do so much more with.

“Originally it was designated for office space but when there was no market for them they changed it to apartments without giving it any real thought.

“The building is quickly falling into disrepair. So little thought or consideration has gone into what the building represents to Swindon.”

The Grade II listed college was built in 1895 and designed by local architect Thomas Ball Silcock. It was one of the first purpose-built technical schools, with a strong link to the history of Swindon. It is located next to the Regent Circus leisure development and is owned by Ashfield Land.

When the application documents were put in, they highlighted the poor state of the building. The second floor is currently unsafe for a full inspection while the ground floor is flooded.

Martha said: “We have been saying for a long time the building is falling apart. It urgently needs protecting from the weather.

“The roof and windows need repairing and it needs fully de-contaminating from the animals. From there a proper look needs to be taken into the building’s future so it can be a benefit to everyone.

“The Civic Voice would like to see it turned into a music venue. We have spoken with a number of musicians and groups who would welcome this and with its close proximity to the Wyvern it is the perfect location.”

If the application is given approval, much of the original entrance and central stairways would remain in use.

The move has been welcomed with caution from a number of councillors who believe at least the building will be saved if the application is given the go ahead.

Councillor Stan Pajak (Lib Dem, Eastcott) said: “Our first wish was to see it become the new home of the art museum, but if this is the best way to ensure the building can be saved then I support it.

“It is a job which can be done well. If you look at the former school on Euclid Street this is a great example of how well the job can be done.”

Council Leader David Renard (Con, Haydon Wick) said: “The only financially viable option for the college was to turn it into apartments.

“We have been in regular contact with the developers to ensure the future of the building, which is an important part of Swindon’s heritage.”

No-one from Ashfield Land was available to comment but the company in the past has said it has looked at possible uses for the former college but residential space was the best way to ensure the building had a future use.

Comments (15)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

7:42am Wed 9 Jul 14

swindondad says...

Swindon Civic Voice,

Have you actually got a costed business plan or are you just spouting more hot air?

I am feed up with groups complaining without offering a viable alternative,"put up or shut up" as my father used to say.
Swindon Civic Voice, Have you actually got a costed business plan or are you just spouting more hot air? I am feed up with groups complaining without offering a viable alternative,"put up or shut up" as my father used to say. swindondad
  • Score: 10

7:56am Wed 9 Jul 14

uknowwhoiam says...

How many failed music venues do we need? Priority needs to be given to saving the building. This looks like it has potential to become the Lacarno all over again if NFPs get stuck in. I know apartments aren't an imaginative idea but our economy doesn't really support the imaginative for the moment. A music venue is hardly revolutionary given the Mecca just over the road. Finally why on earth does having the Wyvern over the road make it in any way a perfect location, infrastructure/parki
ng - yes but other than that I can't see it?
How many failed music venues do we need? Priority needs to be given to saving the building. This looks like it has potential to become the Lacarno all over again if NFPs get stuck in. I know apartments aren't an imaginative idea but our economy doesn't really support the imaginative for the moment. A music venue is hardly revolutionary given the Mecca just over the road. Finally why on earth does having the Wyvern over the road make it in any way a perfect location, infrastructure/parki ng - yes but other than that I can't see it? uknowwhoiam
  • Score: 7

8:34am Wed 9 Jul 14

StillPav says...

Champagne ideas, lemonade money.
Champagne ideas, lemonade money. StillPav
  • Score: 8

9:08am Wed 9 Jul 14

Sandor Clegane says...

While I agree that the use of the building for flats is a real shame (and who would want to live on a busy road right next to a busy supermarket / late night leisure complex?), groups such as Swindon Civic Voice seem to actively harm the case for alternative uses.

The problem being is that they want everything to be 'community' based - which appears to mean they get to run it and have it as they wish while the taxpayer - or someone / anyone else - foots the bill.

As noted above, the town already has several music venues that have essentially flopped completely. When was the last time MECCA put on a worthwhile concert? Level 3 opens and closed bi-annually, 12 Bar went under a couple of times and has been closed for months.

The problem, unfortunately, is Swindon itself. Anywhere else, this building would be worth millions and would have commercial companies falling over themselves in a bidding war to acquire it.

You might also be tempted to think its value would increase due to the proximity to the new development, until you learn that they're finding it difficult to even give those retail units away. Most of the companies in there are on 6 months to a year's free rent and they've still struggled to attract takers.

Due to mass immigration, the country now needs to build at least 300,000 homes per years simply to keep pace with demand, let alone bring prices down, and so flats, apartments and bedsits are going to be what you see springing up everywhere as the return on investment is so high.

Still, that's what people voted for three times in a row.
While I agree that the use of the building for flats is a real shame (and who would want to live on a busy road right next to a busy supermarket / late night leisure complex?), groups such as Swindon Civic Voice seem to actively harm the case for alternative uses. The problem being is that they want everything to be 'community' based - which appears to mean they get to run it and have it as they wish while the taxpayer - or someone / anyone else - foots the bill. As noted above, the town already has several music venues that have essentially flopped completely. When was the last time MECCA put on a worthwhile concert? Level 3 opens and closed bi-annually, 12 Bar went under a couple of times and has been closed for months. The problem, unfortunately, is Swindon itself. Anywhere else, this building would be worth millions and would have commercial companies falling over themselves in a bidding war to acquire it. You might also be tempted to think its value would increase due to the proximity to the new development, until you learn that they're finding it difficult to even give those retail units away. Most of the companies in there are on 6 months to a year's free rent and they've still struggled to attract takers. Due to mass immigration, the country now needs to build at least 300,000 homes per years simply to keep pace with demand, let alone bring prices down, and so flats, apartments and bedsits are going to be what you see springing up everywhere as the return on investment is so high. Still, that's what people voted for three times in a row. Sandor Clegane
  • Score: 5

9:28am Wed 9 Jul 14

Al Smith says...

Music venue, just like MECA a couple of hundred yards down the road?

If the only way to save the building is to convert it into flat then that is what should be done. These self-appointed guardians of our heritage should put-up or shut-up, if you can raise the money then buy the building and do whatever you want with it otherwise STFU!
Music venue, just like MECA a couple of hundred yards down the road? If the only way to save the building is to convert it into flat then that is what should be done. These self-appointed guardians of our heritage should put-up or shut-up, if you can raise the money then buy the building and do whatever you want with it otherwise STFU! Al Smith
  • Score: 3

10:46am Wed 9 Jul 14

messyits says...

I find on here the loudest mouths come from non true Swindonians who distort our history for political ends.
With the rise of UTCs and expansion of our colleges there is no valid reason not to refurbish the old tech college to include living accommodation as investors are plentiful now. An ideal spot for students with shops cinemas-theatre and music venues on their doorstep.
Likewise it is time to refurbish the Mechanics to its original use--support for the UTCs in the old trading estate.
I find on here the loudest mouths come from non true Swindonians who distort our history for political ends. With the rise of UTCs and expansion of our colleges there is no valid reason not to refurbish the old tech college to include living accommodation as investors are plentiful now. An ideal spot for students with shops cinemas-theatre and music venues on their doorstep. Likewise it is time to refurbish the Mechanics to its original use--support for the UTCs in the old trading estate. messyits
  • Score: -2

11:12am Wed 9 Jul 14

MrAngry says...

Flats are a better option than another derelict building left to rot.

Swindon Civic Voice are part of the problem, not the solution.
Flats are a better option than another derelict building left to rot. Swindon Civic Voice are part of the problem, not the solution. MrAngry
  • Score: 6

11:32am Wed 9 Jul 14

nelle2705 says...

Why not turn into a Cabaret Venue ? no more music places but a place where you can go and see a decent show. Bring a bit of Blackpool or West End to Swindon !! Bring the place back to it's former glory and let Swindon folk enjoy it all over again ...... and the anorak brigade can just go and do one interfering busy bodies with nothing good to say about anything !!!
Why not turn into a Cabaret Venue ? no more music places but a place where you can go and see a decent show. Bring a bit of Blackpool or West End to Swindon !! Bring the place back to it's former glory and let Swindon folk enjoy it all over again ...... and the anorak brigade can just go and do one interfering busy bodies with nothing good to say about anything !!! nelle2705
  • Score: -2

5:56pm Wed 9 Jul 14

Oldtownmum says...

The old Victoria Hospital is now flats and they look really nice, neat and modern, whilst still keeping the character of the building. Much better than a tatty boarded up building being left to rot
The old Victoria Hospital is now flats and they look really nice, neat and modern, whilst still keeping the character of the building. Much better than a tatty boarded up building being left to rot Oldtownmum
  • Score: 4

10:11pm Wed 9 Jul 14

messyits says...

Oldtownmum wrote:
The old Victoria Hospital is now flats and they look really nice, neat and modern, whilst still keeping the character of the building. Much better than a tatty boarded up building being left to rot
Indeed they do--but after all it is predominately housing there--unlike the subject property--another UTC with student accommodation would be better suited.
[quote][p][bold]Oldtownmum[/bold] wrote: The old Victoria Hospital is now flats and they look really nice, neat and modern, whilst still keeping the character of the building. Much better than a tatty boarded up building being left to rot[/p][/quote]Indeed they do--but after all it is predominately housing there--unlike the subject property--another UTC with student accommodation would be better suited. messyits
  • Score: -3

12:11am Thu 10 Jul 14

MrAngry says...

The Civic Voice would like to see it turned into a music venue. Raise the money, buy the property and then you can do what you like with it.

Who are the Civic Voice anyway - a random group of 10 people claiming to speak on behalf of the public?
The Civic Voice would like to see it turned into a music venue. Raise the money, buy the property and then you can do what you like with it. Who are the Civic Voice anyway - a random group of 10 people claiming to speak on behalf of the public? MrAngry
  • Score: 4

2:43pm Thu 10 Jul 14

Al Smith says...

messyits wrote:
Oldtownmum wrote:
The old Victoria Hospital is now flats and they look really nice, neat and modern, whilst still keeping the character of the building. Much better than a tatty boarded up building being left to rot
Indeed they do--but after all it is predominately housing there--unlike the subject property--another UTC with student accommodation would be better suited.
UTC cater for students up to the age of 19. So 99% of students will be living at home with mum and dad.
[quote][p][bold]messyits[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Oldtownmum[/bold] wrote: The old Victoria Hospital is now flats and they look really nice, neat and modern, whilst still keeping the character of the building. Much better than a tatty boarded up building being left to rot[/p][/quote]Indeed they do--but after all it is predominately housing there--unlike the subject property--another UTC with student accommodation would be better suited.[/p][/quote]UTC cater for students up to the age of 19. So 99% of students will be living at home with mum and dad. Al Smith
  • Score: 2

5:34pm Thu 10 Jul 14

messyits says...

Al
Most UTC students are young agreed--but the one opening in Sheppard St is both course work and practical experience--similar to apprenticeships. As this is in technology in design and manufacture of fuel cells--clean energy--it is a good field to be in--particularly as recently documents were found of Teslas experiments back a few centuries--he was a genius.
Needless to say the parent company report they are looking for another facility--and take up has been throughout the UK. I feel sure the old tech could provide both classes and accommodation for even more students as they will come from many parts of the UK and abroad in this very exciting field of engineering.
Al Most UTC students are young agreed--but the one opening in Sheppard St is both course work and practical experience--similar to apprenticeships. As this is in technology in design and manufacture of fuel cells--clean energy--it is a good field to be in--particularly as recently documents were found of Teslas experiments back a few centuries--he was a genius. Needless to say the parent company report they are looking for another facility--and take up has been throughout the UK. I feel sure the old tech could provide both classes and accommodation for even more students as they will come from many parts of the UK and abroad in this very exciting field of engineering. messyits
  • Score: 0

7:41pm Thu 10 Jul 14

messyits says...

OOPS
Sorry Al--I confused a conversation with Johnson Mathey and believed as they were involved in the UTC they would run some apprenticeships from there--my error--your information was correct.
OOPS Sorry Al--I confused a conversation with Johnson Mathey and believed as they were involved in the UTC they would run some apprenticeships from there--my error--your information was correct. messyits
  • Score: 1

9:25pm Mon 14 Jul 14

faatmaan says...

again we have the civic do gooders spending local rate payers money, time for them to get a reality check, if they can buy it and utilise it in a way they want fine, but don't expect the ratepayers of Swindon to pick up this tab, plus it the same old clique who voice these pointless inane uses that will fail to come to fruition due to financial constraints. If they had their way we would probably not have had GWH built, weatherspoons, new speedway stadium,The UTC, a cancer unit at GWH, the lit is endless, time marches on, usually for the better. These people live in a time vacuum where everything is seen through rose tinted glasses. Remember Swindon attracts people and businesses because of its flexibility and ability to change to the needs of the day, not yesterday.
again we have the civic do gooders spending local rate payers money, time for them to get a reality check, if they can buy it and utilise it in a way they want fine, but don't expect the ratepayers of Swindon to pick up this tab, plus it the same old clique who voice these pointless inane uses that will fail to come to fruition due to financial constraints. If they had their way we would probably not have had GWH built, weatherspoons, new speedway stadium,The UTC, a cancer unit at GWH, the lit is endless, time marches on, usually for the better. These people live in a time vacuum where everything is seen through rose tinted glasses. Remember Swindon attracts people and businesses because of its flexibility and ability to change to the needs of the day, not yesterday. faatmaan
  • Score: 0
Post a comment

Remember you are personally responsible for what you post on this site and must abide by our site terms. Do not post anything that is false, abusive or malicious. If you wish to complain, please use the ‘report this post’ link.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree