A DEVELOPER who started pulling down a historic Swindon school without planning permission has been ordered to make good the damage.

Swindon Borough Council’s planning department said they had served developer Sukhvir Mander with an enforcement notice, ordering him to restore the former Clifton Street School.

It follows the borough’s decision to refuse Mr Mander’s application for the partial demolition of the Victorian school on Radnor Street, off Kingshill. The developer had applied for retrospective permission to take down the east front of the old school as part of plans to convert the building into 10 flats.

The enforcement notice will take effect from April 17 and gives the developer 10 weeks to undertake repairs.

'We wish to preserve the past'

Gary Sumner, the council’s cabinet member for strategic planning, said: “The council does not wish to see this important heritage asset lost and we have issued this enforcement notice to ensure the developer takes the necessary steps to protect the old school building.

“Failure to comply with the enforcement notice may lead to prosecution in the magistrates’ court, which could result in a substantial fine for the developer.

“We wish to preserve the past while building a prosperous future and ensuring our heritage buildings are not neglected by bringing them back into use is a top priority.”

Under the enforcement notice Mr Mander must repair the pitched roofs, including replacing or undertaking remedial work to sections of the roof that have already been demolished. Down pipes, guttering and fascia that are defective or have been removed by contractors should be replaced with white fascia, rainwater down pipes and guttering.

All doors and windows must be restored and timber hoardings removed. Building waste dumped in the grounds of the former school must also be disposed of, the council said.

Speaking at South Swindon Parish Council’s planning committee this week, committee vice-chairman Patrick Herring welcomed the enforcement notice: “It’s been a long time coming, in my opinion.”

Facebook sales

Earlier this month, history lovers raised concerns that the school’s original gates and radiators had appeared for sale on Facebook. Coun Dale Heenan, cabinet member for the town centre, said there was nothing the council can do  as the building was not listed. He added: “Depending on what is being sold the developer is going to make it harder for himself to comply with the notice.”

Developer responds

In a bizarre twist to the story, Mr Mander and planning agents DPDS were last night saying they had not been served with an enforcement notice. The council denies this.

Previously, the agents have said on behalf of their client that he  already has permission for the conversion of the whole of the former school building to residential use: “The smaller building facing Radnor Street does not easily lend itself to conversion for residential purposes and our client’s proposal is to replace it with a new terraced building that is designed to blend with the architectural style of existing residential properties in Radnor Street immediately adjacent to the site.

“This proposal has much to commend it, not least of all by delivering much needed residential units within the urban area.The main building of the former school complex facing William Street has a commanding street presence retaining elements identifying its former role.

“The building element proposed to be demolished is not listed and has no particular architectural merit whilst its presence in the street scene presents considerably less than an imposing feature.”