PLANS have been drawn up by the potential new owner of Newspaper House on Victoria Road in a bid to kick-start the regeneration of Old Town.

Swindon Regeneration Ltd is expected to buy the home of The Adver from parent group Newsquest if planning permission is granted to build the 148 new flats, offices and a new community space.

The proposal, drawn up by architects Quad Group, is currently with Swindon Borough Council in the pre-planning application stages.

The redevelopment is proposed in four different areas. The frontage of the building on Victoria Road, which is listed, will remain, with the ground floor divided into two units which will either be shops or offices. The current doorway will form a new public archway that will link Victoria Road and Albert Street, with the current columns remaining in place.

Upstairs will be dived into five, high-class apartments, making the most of the current boardroom’s attractive exposed wooden beams. The back of this section will have a living wall attached to it, similar to the one over Canal Walk on the side of the Brunel Centre.

Behind this the current Adver offices will be demolished and replaced with a 14-storey tower block containing 66 one or two bedroom apartments which will all be for rent. The top of the tower will be one metre higher than the spire of nearby Christ Church.

Managing director of Quad Group Gary Madgwick said these apartments would offer unrivalled views out across the town and beyond. He said: “It is quite a difficult site, you either follow the existing line of the footprint or you try and do something nice with it.

“We sat down and said, what would be really stunning, what would put Old Town on the map so that it wasn’t the poor neighbour of New Town?

“If you can’t go out you need to go up to provide the accommodation – what we are proposing is something different.

“If you go down Albert Street that could be in any run-down part of the UK. Because of that we need to do something special to regenerate it.”

There are two further sites of development slightly further down the road, with 32 flats proposed for the end of the island between Albert Street, Church Lane and Little London. These will be made up of one and two bedroom apartments while a further 45 are proposed for the corner of Cricklade Street and Church Lane.

The architect has sought to reassure residents that the flats will not obscure the line of sight of the church when looking down Church Lane. They are also proposing underground parking under each of the three main apartment buildings.

There is also an additional site on the opposite corner of Albert Street and Little London where the disused electricity substation currently stands. The plans propose pedestrianizing this area and diverting the road down Little London instead. A building for community use – which could include a library, a police hub or a café – will also be built here.

Mr Madgwick said that if planning permission is granted builders would be on the site and at work within 12 months. He said: “The vision is that we will provide a community space which is high quality and something that will kick-start all of the regeneration of the area. So much has been promised in Old Town and not happened.

“It’s the idea of starting the whole discussion about Old Town and about where it stands, and this is one option of how we can kick start that.

“I was driving up Cricklade Street at the beginning of winter and I looked up across to where Newspaper House is and all I saw was this grey building. I thought, wouldn’t it be lovely to have Christ Church on one side and a new tower block on the other side. As long as it doesn’t dominate everything around it, they would be the two points of reference as you drove up to Old Town.

“It is important for Swindon and it is important for people to be involved in the process.

“Let’s start the discussion and see what comes out of this.”

It is proposed that a public consultation will be held in the near future at Newspaper House, where a 3D model will be on display.

Managing director of Newsquest Oxfordshire and Wiltshire Chris Moore said: “It is with a tinge of sadness that we leave the building that we have been in for more than 150 years and the heritage that goes with it. But we are moving into a new, digital era and we need a new, modern building to reflect our modern, digital/print outlook.”