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Old proposals for Locarno binned in favour of new ideas
THE DEVELOPER of the Locarno has binned all its old plans for the historic icon in a costly move that indicates a commitment to working closely with the council to find a long-term solution.
Bach Homes Locarno Ltd has withdrawn the appeal over its application to gain another three years in which to start a project to restore and extend the listed building, providing 115 apartments and a register office.
The developer has also withdrawn an application for a hotel development, which was refused in February 2011 but was re-submitted to the council, and has also agreed not to go to appeal on the refused application to demolish the Locarno.
Steve Rosier, of Bach Homes Locarno Ltd, said this meant that tens of thousands of pounds the shareholders invested in the designs and application fees had been lost, but the move was needed to draw a line under the past and clear the air.
For the past three months, Mr Rosier and officials have been drawing up a design brief that will guide what uses and architectural styles are acceptable when the planning committee considers applications.
Mr Rosier said it was wrong to waste officers’ time with appeals and other applications, creating conflict, when good progress was being made on a fresh approach.
He said: “I’m looking at my office and at the number of files I’ve got to throw away. I think it’s very much the right decision.
“If we believe in the process of how we’re working together with the planners, Forward Swindon and English Heritage, its very positive and creative. If we believe in that process, let’s not cloud it with the past.
“Let’s bury the past and concentrate on the future. That’s what this decision aims to do.”
Commenting on the lost investment , he said: “We would sooner not have lost it but that’s part of what property development is about. Sometimes we don’t get the results.”
Mr Rosier revealed last month that a residential element would be a key part of any new scheme to ensure it is economically viable.
He hopes some of the initial ideas can be presented to the public in September or October, before a planning application is submitted in autumn 2013.
Coun Rod Bluh , Swindon Council’s leader, said: “I’m delighted to hear that these various appeals have been withdrawn. I think it’s very sensible, when we’re working together to try to come up with a scheme, that we don’t have other things in the way which would potentially be a distraction.
“And I think it sends out a helpful message that we’re working proactively together to find that long-term solution.”