AN ABANDONED listed building could soon be given a new lease of life – but only if the elements don’t get to it first.
The former college on Victoria Road has been falling into disrepair, but an application has now been put forward to convert the building into apartments.
The building is adjacent to the Regent Circus development and this year it was given listed status.
Because of the size and location of the building, residential use is seen as the only viable option for the building if its future is to be secured.
However, it has been left empty since 2006 and the elements, along with vandals, have taken their toll.
The application describes the poor condition, largely caused by the terrible state of the roof, and a programme of urgent repairs is required before permanent damage is done. If the development is given approval then it is hoped much of the original roofing can be saved.
A document outlining the plan states: “The loss of lead flashings and guttering and ineffective downpipes to the roof perhaps accounts for the greatest amount of deterioration to the building as a whole.
“Recent site inspection photographs show signs of progressive deterioration and more intrusive investigation is required to uncover the full extent of damage to the fabric.
“The second floor is currently unsafe for inspection due to its deterioration from the weather and the ground floor was noted as completely flooded following incessant rain last winter.
“Work should therefore commence urgently to prevent the situation becoming worse.”
The building is owned by the same company behind the Regent Circus development, Ashfield Land, who have previously said the only way to bring the building back into use is to turn it into apartments.
The 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.
Local councillors, along with civic groups, have long campaigned for something to be done to secure the building.
Coun Dave Wood (Lib Dem, Eastcott) said: “We have long said there were problems with the college deteriorating but were always told everything was OK.
“To now find out that this is not the case is very frustrating and I want to see these problems addressed.
“We feel the college would be the perfect location for the new museum and art gallery but the council went with another site so we need to be pragmatic.
“If it is done with a soft touch then the apartments may be the best option to secure the building. There are examples of this being done well, such as the former school on Euclid Street.”
Due to the state of the building, talks are going on between the council and the developers on the best course of action to fix the building.