Hurry up and sort this out

B & B owner Margaret Byrne has been waiting eight years for the council to do something about Townswend House on Bath Road, Old Town

B & B owner Margaret Byrne has been waiting eight years for the council to do something about Townswend House on Bath Road, Old Town

First published in News by

DERELICT Townsend House on Bath Road could be turned into flats for the homeless after lying abandoned for more than eight years.

Townsend House has formerly been used as a centre for the Girl’s Friendly Society, but after an attempt to turn it into flats failed to materialise, the site has been transformed into a rubbish tip.

Margaret Byrne, 66, owner of the adjacent Gables Guest House, said progress needed to be made on the site four months after she last raised the issue.

“I am getting quite frustrated about the whole situation,” she said. “The council have come out and had a meeting a few weeks ago, and they were talking about the potential of turning it into a number of flats for homeless women.”

Rubbish has been piling up in the garden according to Margaret, blighting views from her guest house.

“It does not seem as though anybody is going to clean the garden out properly,” she said.

“The rubbish is still there from the start of the year. They have done the front of the house, but all that involved was cutting back the bushes so it looks a bit neater.

“There has been an even bigger build-up of rubbish out the back because other people are dumping their waste there.

“It will have been eight years last March that it has been left empty. They have been looking into it and apparently they agreed they were going to sell it, but are now looking at using it for homes.”

Margaret would like to discuss the option of combining the two sites to maximise their use.

“There is a limit to what they can do with it, but if they were to negotiate the price of the land with a developer they could find a good use,” she said.

“What we really need is homes for the elderly, and that way everyone could benefit instead of the money for it all coming out of the same pot.”

The effect of the house on her business has led Margaret to consider moving away from the area.

“I did speak to an agent about moving.

“But nobody is going to want to move next door to that, so that is not an option until something is done,” she said.

“They say they will be sending a surveyor in, but you would have thought something would be done by now, even as simple as clearing the rubbish.”

A Swindon Council spokesman said: “We have been pursuing a number of potential uses for Townsend House over the last few years but, unfortunately, none have come to fruition.

“These have included using the building for educational purposes or, more recently, as a base for small commercial start-up enterprises.

“We are currently reviewing all the options for the building with a view to bringing it back into use as quickly as possible."

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