Swindon B&B owner unhappy as neighbouring site is left to become 'den for squatters and addicts'

This Is Wiltshire: Bath Road B&B owner Margaret Byrne is appalled at the state of a neighbouring property which has been left vacant for seven years and turned into a tipping site and drug den Buy this photo Bath Road B&B owner Margaret Byrne is appalled at the state of a neighbouring property which has been left vacant for seven years and turned into a tipping site and drug den

AN eyesore in Old Town has been left vacant for seven years and turned into a dumping ground and drug den, according to guest house owner Margaret Byrne.

Margaret, 66, owner of Gables Guest House on Bath Road, is baffled that nothing has been done with the property in a prime location, and says her business is suffering as a result.

Townsend House had formerly been used as a centre by the Girl’s Friendly Society, and was left dormant after a failed attempt to turn the property into flats.

Margaret said she has been approached to sell her own property in order for it to be combined with the ailing house, and since refusing has seen it fall into disrepair.

“We have got a big eyesore stuck in the middle of the nicest streets in Old Town,” she said.

“It was shut down completely about seven years ago, and since then it has just been used as a tip.

“It used to be a care home years ago, and after that it got turned into flats. But that shut down within three weeks of being opened, and nothing has been done since. Now it is completely derelict.

“The wall next to me was unstable for a long time, and it has since fallen down. It was never replaced.

“In the mean time we have had rubbish being dumped there and squatters moving in.

“There have been people using it as a drugs den and we have seen people doing deals at the back of the house.

“Every time we see a problem, we have reported it to police, but they always get there too late.

“Around that time there was security put around the property, but people have broken in through the padlocks.”

Margaret said having the house next door was putting off her customers, and she is unable to move location because she cannot find a buyer.

“When I look at it I ask myself why it should be shut up any longer,” she said.

“Any developer would buy that land and build houses on it straight away.

“The council said they were looking to get a business in there last March, but nothing has happened.

“I am living next door to a tip, and I feel very cross because I just see it getting worse and worse.

“It is damaging to my business, because nobody wants to stay next door to that.

“People have been out to clear the mess about 20 times over the last seven years, but it just keeps coming back. Squatters come in and cut the locks and the whole thing starts over. The iron gate outside has been stolen, and it is not even boarded up.

“It is a sin to see that place going to waste. If the council are desperate for money they should just sell it off. It is heartbreaking to see, and I can’t wait any longer for them to make their mind up.

“I can’t sell my house now, and I am trapped here.”

A Swindon Borough Council spokesman said: “We have been pursuing a number of potential uses for Townsend House over the last few years but, unfortunately, none have come to fruition.

“These have included using the building for educational purposes or, more recently, as a base for small commercial start-up enterprises.

“We are currently reviewing all the options for the building with a view to bringing it back into use as quickly as possible."

Comments (25)

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8:28am Tue 14 Jan 14

Always Grumpy says...

"Swindon Council could not be contacted for a statement before the Adver went to press."

A non story then, until the owners/council/polic
e etc are interviewed to get the full story. Why publish just one side? Is just to fill up the newspaper and then re-run the story when more information is available?
It's just very shoddy journalism in a very shoddy and poorly run newspaper.
"Swindon Council could not be contacted for a statement before the Adver went to press." A non story then, until the owners/council/polic e etc are interviewed to get the full story. Why publish just one side? Is just to fill up the newspaper and then re-run the story when more information is available? It's just very shoddy journalism in a very shoddy and poorly run newspaper. Always Grumpy
  • Score: -8

8:43am Tue 14 Jan 14

swindondad says...

I have to agree with Always Grumpy, this is not a time critical storey or "breaking news" so why publish it before it has been fully researched. Surely waiting until a balanced story could be told would have been better.
I have to agree with Always Grumpy, this is not a time critical storey or "breaking news" so why publish it before it has been fully researched. Surely waiting until a balanced story could be told would have been better. swindondad
  • Score: -2

8:55am Tue 14 Jan 14

LordAshOfTheBrake says...

The person was doing well until this statement “I can’t sell my house now, and I am trapped here.”

Now they just come across as a whinger as opposed to someone who was trying to get an eyesore sorted out.

That said it is about time that these companies/developers
/speculators that buy up land with little intention to do some useful with it in the short term are legally bound to maintain the grounds and security; especially in residential areas.
The person was doing well until this statement “I can’t sell my house now, and I am trapped here.” Now they just come across as a whinger as opposed to someone who was trying to get an eyesore sorted out. That said it is about time that these companies/developers /speculators that buy up land with little intention to do some useful with it in the short term are legally bound to maintain the grounds and security; especially in residential areas. LordAshOfTheBrake
  • Score: 5

9:17am Tue 14 Jan 14

StillPav says...

It does seem strange that the council are always pleading poverty, yet they own this property that has sat derelict for years.
It does seem strange that the council are always pleading poverty, yet they own this property that has sat derelict for years. StillPav
  • Score: 19

9:20am Tue 14 Jan 14

twasadawf says...

Reckon most of these properties should have a law put on them use it or lose it (knock it down or let another property dealer sort it out) as they attract the wrong sort of people to the area, to many buildings left empty for years going to waste
Reckon most of these properties should have a law put on them use it or lose it (knock it down or let another property dealer sort it out) as they attract the wrong sort of people to the area, to many buildings left empty for years going to waste twasadawf
  • Score: 15

9:29am Tue 14 Jan 14

StillPav says...

twasadawf wrote:
Reckon most of these properties should have a law put on them use it or lose it (knock it down or let another property dealer sort it out) as they attract the wrong sort of people to the area, to many buildings left empty for years going to waste
It's owned by the council.
[quote][p][bold]twasadawf[/bold] wrote: Reckon most of these properties should have a law put on them use it or lose it (knock it down or let another property dealer sort it out) as they attract the wrong sort of people to the area, to many buildings left empty for years going to waste[/p][/quote]It's owned by the council. StillPav
  • Score: 16

10:28am Tue 14 Jan 14

RichardR1 says...

It does seem strange that a fully converted property is not used to house some of the homeless. I agree the Advertiser really do need to follow this up. It's hypocritical for the council to go after private owners as we've read, then do the same themselves.
It does seem strange that a fully converted property is not used to house some of the homeless. I agree the Advertiser really do need to follow this up. It's hypocritical for the council to go after private owners as we've read, then do the same themselves. RichardR1
  • Score: 15

10:41am Tue 14 Jan 14

PJC says...

Hang on, earlier in the article it says developers offered to buy her property and she refused, then says later that she can't sell as no-one will buy it?
Hang on, earlier in the article it says developers offered to buy her property and she refused, then says later that she can't sell as no-one will buy it? PJC
  • Score: 5

11:49am Tue 14 Jan 14

tarot says...

This building was originally a Hostel. It was shut down years ago and all residents were either rehoused or turned back onto the streets. Hostel places have declined over the years, so less people go through the system.
Davis house originally had 125 beds with additional flats and emergency accomodation, The new Booth house only helps 25 people now. Go figure!
This building was originally a Hostel. It was shut down years ago and all residents were either rehoused or turned back onto the streets. Hostel places have declined over the years, so less people go through the system. Davis house originally had 125 beds with additional flats and emergency accomodation, The new Booth house only helps 25 people now. Go figure! tarot
  • Score: 7

12:01pm Tue 14 Jan 14

swindondad says...

tarot wrote:
This building was originally a Hostel. It was shut down years ago and all residents were either rehoused or turned back onto the streets. Hostel places have declined over the years, so less people go through the system. Davis house originally had 125 beds with additional flats and emergency accomodation, The new Booth house only helps 25 people now. Go figure!
Does anyone KNOW who owns this building NOW and why after (as stated in the article) conversion to flats it was closed down.

(I know this is the sort of information that the adver should have included within the article) without it I am having difficulty forming an opinion as to who’s fault / reasonability the current state of the site is.
[quote][p][bold]tarot[/bold] wrote: This building was originally a Hostel. It was shut down years ago and all residents were either rehoused or turned back onto the streets. Hostel places have declined over the years, so less people go through the system. Davis house originally had 125 beds with additional flats and emergency accomodation, The new Booth house only helps 25 people now. Go figure![/p][/quote]Does anyone KNOW who owns this building NOW and why after (as stated in the article) conversion to flats it was closed down. (I know this is the sort of information that the adver should have included within the article) without it I am having difficulty forming an opinion as to who’s fault / reasonability the current state of the site is. swindondad
  • Score: 7

12:06pm Tue 14 Jan 14

tarot says...

swindondad wrote:
tarot wrote:
This building was originally a Hostel. It was shut down years ago and all residents were either rehoused or turned back onto the streets. Hostel places have declined over the years, so less people go through the system. Davis house originally had 125 beds with additional flats and emergency accomodation, The new Booth house only helps 25 people now. Go figure!
Does anyone KNOW who owns this building NOW and why after (as stated in the article) conversion to flats it was closed down.

(I know this is the sort of information that the adver should have included within the article) without it I am having difficulty forming an opinion as to who’s fault / reasonability the current state of the site is.
I could be mixing it up with Townsend house not too sure, but the point is so many buildings stand empty and brings an area down. Perhaps there is ulteria motive to bring property prices down. Who knows?
[quote][p][bold]swindondad[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]tarot[/bold] wrote: This building was originally a Hostel. It was shut down years ago and all residents were either rehoused or turned back onto the streets. Hostel places have declined over the years, so less people go through the system. Davis house originally had 125 beds with additional flats and emergency accomodation, The new Booth house only helps 25 people now. Go figure![/p][/quote]Does anyone KNOW who owns this building NOW and why after (as stated in the article) conversion to flats it was closed down. (I know this is the sort of information that the adver should have included within the article) without it I am having difficulty forming an opinion as to who’s fault / reasonability the current state of the site is.[/p][/quote]I could be mixing it up with Townsend house not too sure, but the point is so many buildings stand empty and brings an area down. Perhaps there is ulteria motive to bring property prices down. Who knows? tarot
  • Score: 4

12:18pm Tue 14 Jan 14

StillPav says...

swindondad wrote:
tarot wrote: This building was originally a Hostel. It was shut down years ago and all residents were either rehoused or turned back onto the streets. Hostel places have declined over the years, so less people go through the system. Davis house originally had 125 beds with additional flats and emergency accomodation, The new Booth house only helps 25 people now. Go figure!
Does anyone KNOW who owns this building NOW and why after (as stated in the article) conversion to flats it was closed down. (I know this is the sort of information that the adver should have included within the article) without it I am having difficulty forming an opinion as to who’s fault / reasonability the current state of the site is.
YES

THE COUNCIL!

Here is a link to the council's asset register:

http://www.swindon.g
ov.uk/cd/Council%20a
nd%20Democracy%20Doc
ument%20Library/Info
rmation%20-%20Counci
l%20Asset%20Register
.pdf
[quote][p][bold]swindondad[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]tarot[/bold] wrote: This building was originally a Hostel. It was shut down years ago and all residents were either rehoused or turned back onto the streets. Hostel places have declined over the years, so less people go through the system. Davis house originally had 125 beds with additional flats and emergency accomodation, The new Booth house only helps 25 people now. Go figure![/p][/quote]Does anyone KNOW who owns this building NOW and why after (as stated in the article) conversion to flats it was closed down. (I know this is the sort of information that the adver should have included within the article) without it I am having difficulty forming an opinion as to who’s fault / reasonability the current state of the site is.[/p][/quote]YES THE COUNCIL! Here is a link to the council's asset register: http://www.swindon.g ov.uk/cd/Council%20a nd%20Democracy%20Doc ument%20Library/Info rmation%20-%20Counci l%20Asset%20Register .pdf StillPav
  • Score: 6

1:10pm Tue 14 Jan 14

house on the hill says...

PJC wrote:
Hang on, earlier in the article it says developers offered to buy her property and she refused, then says later that she can't sell as no-one will buy it?
Yes but we don't what the offer was though, it could have been an insulting price.
[quote][p][bold]PJC[/bold] wrote: Hang on, earlier in the article it says developers offered to buy her property and she refused, then says later that she can't sell as no-one will buy it?[/p][/quote]Yes but we don't what the offer was though, it could have been an insulting price. house on the hill
  • Score: 4

1:19pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Davey Gravey says...

I don't blame the woman for moaning. None of us would like it next door to us would we?
Just another derelict mess that is the councils fault(Mechanics institute anyone)
I don't blame the woman for moaning. None of us would like it next door to us would we? Just another derelict mess that is the councils fault(Mechanics institute anyone) Davey Gravey
  • Score: 13

1:25pm Tue 14 Jan 14

StillPav says...

Davey Gravey wrote:
I don't blame the woman for moaning. None of us would like it next door to us would we? Just another derelict mess that is the councils fault(Mechanics institute anyone)
The council don't own the Mechanics. The fault for it being a derelict mess lies with the people who protest at every attempt to restore it.
[quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: I don't blame the woman for moaning. None of us would like it next door to us would we? Just another derelict mess that is the councils fault(Mechanics institute anyone)[/p][/quote]The council don't own the Mechanics. The fault for it being a derelict mess lies with the people who protest at every attempt to restore it. StillPav
  • Score: 6

1:41pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Davey Gravey says...

StillPav wrote:
Davey Gravey wrote:
I don't blame the woman for moaning. None of us would like it next door to us would we? Just another derelict mess that is the councils fault(Mechanics institute anyone)
The council don't own the Mechanics. The fault for it being a derelict mess lies with the people who protest at every attempt to restore it.
I didn't say they owned it. They are partly responsible for it rotting like it has been for years though. I agree with your last point as those people do not help either.
[quote][p][bold]StillPav[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: I don't blame the woman for moaning. None of us would like it next door to us would we? Just another derelict mess that is the councils fault(Mechanics institute anyone)[/p][/quote]The council don't own the Mechanics. The fault for it being a derelict mess lies with the people who protest at every attempt to restore it.[/p][/quote]I didn't say they owned it. They are partly responsible for it rotting like it has been for years though. I agree with your last point as those people do not help either. Davey Gravey
  • Score: 7

5:05pm Tue 14 Jan 14

DLP OldTown says...

Yes what an eyesore this has become, it's a shame Swindon Borough Clownschool don't employ a couple of professional business men to sort out some of the properties they have owned for years which stand empty. They bleat on about empty private properties being bought back into use to help the homeless yet do nothing about the properties they own.
In these day of austerity cuts and money being tight I would have though the Council would want every bit of revenue this property would generate from Rates once it had been 'bought back to life.
Yes what an eyesore this has become, it's a shame Swindon Borough Clownschool don't employ a couple of professional business men to sort out some of the properties they have owned for years which stand empty. They bleat on about empty private properties being bought back into use to help the homeless yet do nothing about the properties they own. In these day of austerity cuts and money being tight I would have though the Council would want every bit of revenue this property would generate from Rates once it had been 'bought back to life. DLP OldTown
  • Score: 9

5:10pm Tue 14 Jan 14

PJC says...

house on the hill wrote:
PJC wrote:
Hang on, earlier in the article it says developers offered to buy her property and she refused, then says later that she can't sell as no-one will buy it?
Yes but we don't what the offer was though, it could have been an insulting price.
True, but if she can't sell it at all now......
[quote][p][bold]house on the hill[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]PJC[/bold] wrote: Hang on, earlier in the article it says developers offered to buy her property and she refused, then says later that she can't sell as no-one will buy it?[/p][/quote]Yes but we don't what the offer was though, it could have been an insulting price.[/p][/quote]True, but if she can't sell it at all now...... PJC
  • Score: -2

6:02pm Tue 14 Jan 14

anotherimigrant says...

I know there was a 600k refit done on that place and it wasn't open for a few months and it was closed.

I worked there for a charity from London, I presumed they owned it, but shock and horror the wasteful, negligent, council own it.

its all fitted out with individual rooms and I would have been happy to have done something with it, but I thought it was in receivership or something.

shameful waste of taxpayers money. But who cares.
I know there was a 600k refit done on that place and it wasn't open for a few months and it was closed. I worked there for a charity from London, I presumed they owned it, but shock and horror the wasteful, negligent, council own it. its all fitted out with individual rooms and I would have been happy to have done something with it, but I thought it was in receivership or something. shameful waste of taxpayers money. But who cares. anotherimigrant
  • Score: 4

6:06pm Tue 14 Jan 14

anotherimigrant says...

DLP OldTown wrote:
Yes what an eyesore this has become, it's a shame Swindon Borough Clownschool don't employ a couple of professional business men to sort out some of the properties they have owned for years which stand empty. They bleat on about empty private properties being bought back into use to help the homeless yet do nothing about the properties they own.
In these day of austerity cuts and money being tight I would have though the Council would want every bit of revenue this property would generate from Rates once it had been 'bought back to life.
I agree totally with your comments DLP, this council is loaded with two faced barstewards who tell us one thing and do another.

A private owner would have HAD to pay rates and the law is that after 6mths the rates double. So on this assumption how much have the clowns cost us, AGAIN
[quote][p][bold]DLP OldTown[/bold] wrote: Yes what an eyesore this has become, it's a shame Swindon Borough Clownschool don't employ a couple of professional business men to sort out some of the properties they have owned for years which stand empty. They bleat on about empty private properties being bought back into use to help the homeless yet do nothing about the properties they own. In these day of austerity cuts and money being tight I would have though the Council would want every bit of revenue this property would generate from Rates once it had been 'bought back to life.[/p][/quote]I agree totally with your comments DLP, this council is loaded with two faced barstewards who tell us one thing and do another. A private owner would have HAD to pay rates and the law is that after 6mths the rates double. So on this assumption how much have the clowns cost us, AGAIN anotherimigrant
  • Score: 9

9:39pm Tue 14 Jan 14

house on the hill says...

PJC wrote:
house on the hill wrote:
PJC wrote:
Hang on, earlier in the article it says developers offered to buy her property and she refused, then says later that she can't sell as no-one will buy it?
Yes but we don't what the offer was though, it could have been an insulting price.
True, but if she can't sell it at all now......
Hindsight is a wonderful thing! If only we all had it.....
[quote][p][bold]PJC[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]house on the hill[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]PJC[/bold] wrote: Hang on, earlier in the article it says developers offered to buy her property and she refused, then says later that she can't sell as no-one will buy it?[/p][/quote]Yes but we don't what the offer was though, it could have been an insulting price.[/p][/quote]True, but if she can't sell it at all now......[/p][/quote]Hindsight is a wonderful thing! If only we all had it..... house on the hill
  • Score: 0

9:43pm Tue 14 Jan 14

house on the hill says...

anotherimigrant wrote:
DLP OldTown wrote:
Yes what an eyesore this has become, it's a shame Swindon Borough Clownschool don't employ a couple of professional business men to sort out some of the properties they have owned for years which stand empty. They bleat on about empty private properties being bought back into use to help the homeless yet do nothing about the properties they own.
In these day of austerity cuts and money being tight I would have though the Council would want every bit of revenue this property would generate from Rates once it had been 'bought back to life.
I agree totally with your comments DLP, this council is loaded with two faced barstewards who tell us one thing and do another.

A private owner would have HAD to pay rates and the law is that after 6mths the rates double. So on this assumption how much have the clowns cost us, AGAIN
Not sure they have the intelligence or ability to be two faced, they are just incompetent and useless from the top to the bottom and back again. They just have no clue and couldnt organise a bun fight in a bakery. As anyone who has worked there and escaped will tell you, if you really knew what was going on there you would wonder how the town actually survives with those lazy idiots working there.
[quote][p][bold]anotherimigrant[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]DLP OldTown[/bold] wrote: Yes what an eyesore this has become, it's a shame Swindon Borough Clownschool don't employ a couple of professional business men to sort out some of the properties they have owned for years which stand empty. They bleat on about empty private properties being bought back into use to help the homeless yet do nothing about the properties they own. In these day of austerity cuts and money being tight I would have though the Council would want every bit of revenue this property would generate from Rates once it had been 'bought back to life.[/p][/quote]I agree totally with your comments DLP, this council is loaded with two faced barstewards who tell us one thing and do another. A private owner would have HAD to pay rates and the law is that after 6mths the rates double. So on this assumption how much have the clowns cost us, AGAIN[/p][/quote]Not sure they have the intelligence or ability to be two faced, they are just incompetent and useless from the top to the bottom and back again. They just have no clue and couldnt organise a bun fight in a bakery. As anyone who has worked there and escaped will tell you, if you really knew what was going on there you would wonder how the town actually survives with those lazy idiots working there. house on the hill
  • Score: 8

2:54pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Wiltshirereader says...

Whatever the reason for this story to appear, the building is a complete and utter eyesore. I regularly walk along Bath Road and when I get to that building it makes me shudder, it's such an ugly and neglected building it lets the whole area down. I've had many visitors to Swindon and they ALL comment on it, it's an absolute disgrace and SBC should do something about it IMMEDIATELY if not before!!!
Whatever the reason for this story to appear, the building is a complete and utter eyesore. I regularly walk along Bath Road and when I get to that building it makes me shudder, it's such an ugly and neglected building it lets the whole area down. I've had many visitors to Swindon and they ALL comment on it, it's an absolute disgrace and SBC should do something about it IMMEDIATELY if not before!!! Wiltshirereader
  • Score: 1

2:55pm Wed 15 Jan 14

crewcutandnewt says...

A missed opportunity, in more ways than one. I hope the Adver follow this up as it would be interesting to get the Council's views.

As far as I can see, yes, the Council does own it. Like StillPav says, it is on their asset register and was previously floated as a possible site for a school (so it could be they are planning to do something with it). It was once used as a hostel for single vulnerable women. As things appear, however, it is a crying shame that it is not put to good use.

I am less sure about the merits of turning it into more high-end flats. (Who knows perhaps the Council will surprise us all and tell us it is ear-marked for community use!).

With the numbers of homeless growing (and places declining) that would be a result.
A missed opportunity, in more ways than one. I hope the Adver follow this up as it would be interesting to get the Council's views. As far as I can see, yes, the Council does own it. Like StillPav says, it is on their asset register and was previously floated as a possible site for a school (so it could be they are planning to do something with it). It was once used as a hostel for single vulnerable women. As things appear, however, it is a crying shame that it is not put to good use. I am less sure about the merits of turning it into more high-end flats. (Who knows perhaps the Council will surprise us all and tell us it is ear-marked for community use!). With the numbers of homeless growing (and places declining) that would be a result. crewcutandnewt
  • Score: 1

10:17pm Wed 22 Jan 14

msw says...

Margaret Byrne WELL DONE for raising, Why don't SBC sell it for development, McCarthy Retirement homes would love a spot like that. If it belonged to a Private business something would of happened by now, even if it was just plans SBC refused!!! Why do SBC not act, why unavailable for comment, I hope the Adver keep trying to get a comment or more desirable a Statement!!! Why should Margaret sell up, she clearly runs a business and lives there. Come on SBC send the site to auction ASAP and get some coffers in the pot! I think SBC should persure that didgy councillor for the £400,000 missing from that failed Wi-Fi CRAZY IDEA & Plough some funds into Building some better roads into and out of North & West Swindon.........
Margaret Byrne WELL DONE for raising, Why don't SBC sell it for development, McCarthy Retirement homes would love a spot like that. If it belonged to a Private business something would of happened by now, even if it was just plans SBC refused!!! Why do SBC not act, why unavailable for comment, I hope the Adver keep trying to get a comment or more desirable a Statement!!! Why should Margaret sell up, she clearly runs a business and lives there. Come on SBC send the site to auction ASAP and get some coffers in the pot! I think SBC should persure that didgy councillor for the £400,000 missing from that failed Wi-Fi CRAZY IDEA & Plough some funds into Building some better roads into and out of North & West Swindon......... msw
  • Score: 0

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