TEMPORARY residents will remain in the former Swindon Advertiser building for the next three months until refurbishment work starts.

Developers have blamed a hold-up in the borough’s planning office, which has delayed the start of a massive flats redevelopment in the newspaper's former offices on Victoria Road.

Property company Blewbury Court wants to refurbish the historic stone frontage as offices, while the printworks and former newsroom is to be turned into 31 flats. The development has been given the go-ahead by the borough council.

In the meantime, the developers have opened up the 150-year-old offices to paying guests. Called guardianship, it sees tenants pay less in rent in return for keeping otherwise empty properties from vandalism.

The eight-bedroom house share has been advertised on property websites like Rightmove and Spareroom since the beginning of the summer. Monthly rent for an unfurnished room is just £285, including bills.

But an Old Town parish councillor has slammed the plans, calling it the “latest twist in this unhappy saga”.

Conservative Nick Burns-Howell, who unsuccessfully stood for the borough councillor role in May, said: “Ever since the idea of a 13 storey building was floated back in 2016, we have seen a lack of transparency and openness. From changes and office refurbishment plans swinging to proposals for flats without adequate parking provisions.

“The developers are now advertising rooms for rent with little, or no, refurbishment since the newspaper employees moved out.

“Even if this is intended as a short term option, there are better ways to protect this building and the developers should be focused on investing in this important Old Town landmark.”

Developers Blewbury Court told the Swindon Advertiser said they expected redevelopment works to start within two or three months.

They said the guardianship scheme, run through Ad Hoc Property Management, was effectively protecting the old building until it was ready to be refurbished. The temporary residents would ensure the security of the building until the outstanding planning matters for the redevelopment are resolved with Swindon Borough Council.

The council has allowed for the building to be used for multiple occupation, Blewbury Court said.