THE former home of Swindon’s museum and art gallery will be going up for sale.

Apsley House on Bath Road closed at the start of the pandemic because its limited capacity and split levels made social distancing difficult.

Swindon Borough Council then decided to move its museum and art collections to a temporary new home in the Civic Offices on Euclid Street until plans for the proposed Cultural Quarter come forward.

Now, the Grade II listed building will be going up for sale – but first, community organisations will have the chance to become the historic property’s new owner and find a new use for it.

The building is listed as an Asset of Community Value, so the local authority must legally offer it to groups around the town, who have six weeks to decide if they want to trigger a moratorium.

Doing this would give community groups at least six months to put bids together for the property while it is being marketed. The council would be unable to sell it to any other organisation before this date.

The process does not require the council to dispose of the property to a community group or at a discounted sale price.

Swindon Advertiser: Apsley House is up for saleApsley House is up for sale

Any money raised from the sale would be used to support the creation of a brand new museum and art gallery.

In the meantime, preparations for the collection’s new space in the Civic Officers are underway and some of it has already been put on display.

Aspley House was built between 1830 and 1840, initially used as a residence before becoming a museum and art gallery.

It is housed within a conservation area and has a 1960s side and rear extension, which was once used as a gallery space accessed through Apsley House.

The lower floors of the extension are subdivided and leased on commercial business tenancies. Along with potential community interest, it is anticipated that Apsley House would be attractive to developers and occupiers looking to undertake a redevelopment or a change of use.

Coun Keith Williams said: “Apsley House holds a special place in the hearts of many local residents and we want to ensure it is brought back into use as soon as is practically possible.

“We have already had some interest but will wait to hear from community groups and organisations to see if they would want to trigger the moratorium as part of the sale process.

“I look forward to seeing what proposals come forward.”