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‘Save the town’s heritage’
11:30am Sunday 1st September 2013 in News
CONCERNS have been raised over the safety of the old technical college on Victoria Road, which is due to be converted into office space.
The building is unsecured, leaving it open to the elements as well as vandalism, and members of Swindon Civic Voice are worried the historic building might not survive to see the redevelopment.
Ashfield Land gained control of the building when it bought the old Swindon College site in 2006, which is now being turned into a leisure complex.
The company has promised to convert the building into offices once the other work, which will include a cinema, is completed.
However, this is not due to take place until next year and the worry is the building will be beyond repair by this point.
Martha Parry, the interim chairman of Swindon Civic Voice, said: “The premises is unsecured and windows broken, open to the weather and pigeons too. There could be fire next.
“It is the owner’s responsibility in law to ensure the safety of vacant premises.”
“The college is a significantly important local building, even if it is not listed by some London official,” Martha said.
“We believe it should have been listed and protected.
“Unless something is done immediately it could go the way of Even Swindon Primary.
“If the owner can afford to develop the college site, then they can afford to protect this building, which should not have been permitted by the council to be deferred to a second stage of development.”
With winter approaching, Martha worried the windows will be irreversibly damaged and wants the developers to take immediate action.
She said: “Something needs to happen straight away.
“They need to clear out all the pests which have got inside and then board up every window.”
The state of the building is symptomatic of attitudes towards historic buildings according to Martha and she is demanding change.
“The issues are similar to those which have plagued Swindon for decades, ignoring a problem until it is too late,” she said.
“The Mechanic’s Institute and the Locarno are higher profile examples of the same negligent and underhanded way of ridding an owner of a problem property and freeing up the land value underneath it.
“This is a well known practice everywhere but especially problematic in Swindon, where the Victorian heritage has not been appreciated during the post war expansion decades.”
At the time of going to print, no one from Ashfield Land was available to comment.
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