One of Swindon’s most famous buildings - which has been left derelict for almost 40 years - may be reopened soon with the council set to discuss a plan to see it reopen.

The Mechanics Institute in Emlyn Square closed in 1986 and since then has been subject to fires, vandalism and even lost its roof.

It is a Grade II*-listed Victorian building now owned by Forefront Estates and first opened in 1854.

Swindon Borough Council estimates that the renovation of the building will cost over £25 million, with urgent work carried out several times.

The issue of ownership of the building has caused delays and confusion over how and what can be done by SBC to transform the building which was formerly an important hub to the town’s social scene, and a hive of activity during the height of the Railway Works.

SBC has now announced that a "roadmap” of how the Mechanics can be brought back to life is to be presented to the council’s cabinet next week, following advice from Historic England.

The plan will look to identify a new use for the building, how it can be funded as well as addressing the issue of ownership.

A spokesperson for SBC said: “Due to the condition of the building, it will take tens of millions of pounds and a number of years to bring it back into use.

“However, a new plan, which has been shaped using expert advice from Historic England, will be presented to the Council’s Cabinet and sets out some key steps to begin the process.”

In October, it was proposed to the council to take legal action to gain ownership of the building so that action can be taken.

Councillor Dale Heenan, who was in charge of the council’s efforts regarding the building until July 2021, made this proposal.

Cllr Heenan said a compulsory purchase order is not necessary to take control of the building and the council could sue the owner for the money the council is owed after it carried out urgent repairs on the building over several years.

He said at the time: "A business case for a multi-use site showed that it can cover its annual costs, while the building survey which concluded earlier this summer shows that there is an estimated cost of £25 million to refurbish.

“Yet until the problem of ownership is addressed by the council there will be no progress."

The decision was made not to take legal action as this would be of a considerable cost to the council.

Urgent repairs which cost £10,000 were made to the building in March 2023.

Councillor Marina Strinkovsky, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Heritage, Art and Culture, said: “The Mechanics building has played a huge role in the history of Swindon and it's a crying shame it has been empty and disused for so long. It’s time we took the necessary steps to secure a future for it back at the heart of the community.

“While the building's restoration is undoubtedly a huge task, this new roadmap clearly sets out what we need to do in order to bring it into use.

“I look forward to taking on this challenge and to finally seeing the Mechanics and the Railway Village alive and thriving anew.”

Bob Wright, chairman of the Swindon Heritage Preservation Trust, said: “We believe the cabinet paper proposals are the best chance that Swindon has had to deliver a restored Mechanics since the formation of the Trust.

“This paper is the culmination of all the work given by many to achieve a restored Mechanics Institution.”