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Mechanics Institute named as in 'at risk' list by English Heritage
THE Mechanics’ Institute has been named as one of 10 at risk listed buildings in the south west by the English Heritage annual Heritage At Risk report.
The building has been given a grade C listing, which means it is suffering a slow decay with no solution yet agreed.
Altogether, 18 structures in Swindon have been included on the register as at risk, including 15 archaological sites, one place of worship and two listed buildings.
Only one new entry in the Swindon area has been added since last year, the Church of St Leonard in Stanton Fitzwarren, which is Grade I listed.
It has been included after signs of slow decay, but a strategy has been put in place to deal with the symptoms, after a repair grant for places of worship was offered to the parish in 2012.
Also at high risk is the vacant Chain Test House in Rodbourne Road, which is a Grade II* listed building.
An application to build 257 new homes at the former railway works in North Swindon was submitted last month by Thomas House Ltd.
Daniel Rose, chair of the Mechanics’ Institution Trust, said: “Unfortunately the Mechanics’ Institute has been on the register since 1999. The reason it got on there in the first place was because the Trust upgraded the building to a Grade II, which means that it gets the attention of English Heritage, as it is in the top 10 per cent of buildings in the country.”
Daniel said progress was being made with the site, and there was hope for the future.
“The building is now out of private ownership and the Trust is working to bring about a positive future for the building,” he said.
“There has never been a better time to bring it off the register. For years it has languished, but now there is real momentum for getting the building secured.
“We are working with the council, English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund to take a far more positive approach. We all believe there is a solution even if we do not know exactly what it is yet. But it is one of the most important issues to deal with for the regeneration of the town. This is not an impossible task.”
Daniel added it would be a shame if the Chain Test House development went ahead.
“I think it is a pretty uninspiring proposal, and a waste of that very important site,” he said.
“Unfortunately it looks like they are going to take it forward. I think a lot more could have been gained from that site. I do not think the use will be appropriate, and the standard of design is not high enough given the importance of the site.”
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