THE move to transform an iconic Swindon building has divided opinion in the town.

The former Pattern Store is being converted as part of an initiative by the Diocese of Bristol to support the regeneration of the area.

It was bought outright by the diocese for an undisclosed sum from the former owner, Bottelino’s Italian restaurant.

But the plans to turn it into a church prompted a spirited discussion among Adver readers when they were revealed

Geoff Jackson said: “It just goes to show that those in power have no idea of what is actually needed in the community.”

Scott Harvey said: “What an insane waste of a historic building.

“I work with people who have been on the railways since the sixties as apprentices. They just face-palm at how buildings like this are ruined and not utilised to their full potential.”

But Lin Willing said: “I am sure the building will be used for all sorts of things for everyone not just Sunday for services.

“It will be good to see it in use for something positive.

“It’s bound to get criticism as a church do but it’s a great plan.”

The church says it will work in partnership with existing parish churches which are already involved in supporting the homeless, lonely, isolated, hungry or in need of support.

A spokesman for at the Diocese of Bristol said: “We are pleased to be able to make this important investment in the Swindon’s heritage and to breathe new life into the building for the town.

“Whilst the building is being opened as a church, it will also be able to provide open multi-functional spaces for wider community use and this will allow the building to be enjoyed once again by the people of the town.

He explained the conversion formed a part of the Church of England’s response to serving the social needs of people in Swindon as well as their spiritual needs.

“The new church will have a vision for the whole town. This project is planned to strengthen what our churches are already doing to bring about the positive social transformation of the town.”

The Pattern Store is a Grade II listed building constructed in 1897 for the Great Western Railway in Swindon at a cost of £4,000.

Pattern Church will be led by the Rev Joel Sales who is relocating from London and is planned to open around Christmas.