NEWS that one of the town’s historic buildings has been given listed status has been met with mixed reaction.
The former Technical School, in Victoria Road, was given Grade II status earlier this week, along with its front wall and gate. While the decision has been welcomed by a local campaign group, developers looking to bring the building back into use fear it could scupper their plans.
The listing means work can still be carried out but it puts strong limitations on what can be done. Among the reasons for it gaining listed status is that it is an example of architecture by Thomas Ball Silcock and it is one of the first purpose-built technical schools, with a strong link to the history of Swindon.
he building is included in the Regent Circus development, which will see a cinema, supermarket and restaurants built. Once these have been built the school was set to be turned into office space, although this was later changed to residential space.
Work can still be done on the building but there will now be far more restrictions.
It is not known who asked for it to be given listed status. When Swindon College moved to its current location in 2006, the technical school was targeted by vandals. Swindon Civic Voice, who did not apply for listed status, have campaigned for the 1895 building to be saved.
Martha Parry, of the group, said: “I am absolutely thrilled with this news. It is so good for the town. The college is such an important part of the history of Swindon. I am so happy to hear it will not be knocked down.
“It’s been a real shame to watch it fall into ruin. At the Civic Voice we would like to see it used as a music conservatory which could hold small concerts and lessons.”
Ashfield Land, which is developing Regent Circus, have been in talks with the council over future usage but believe the listing may halt the process. J
ames Digby, a director, said: “This may be counter productive. Things were moving forward with turning it into residential space but this limits what we can do and means the plans have to be looked at again.”
He said: “We told the developers the building was close to the hearts of the people in Swindon so it needed to be incorporated into the plans.
“The process will be slowed down but we will make sure that eventually something is done.”