Mixed feelings over new plans for derelict site
DERELICT Townsend House in Old Town could be given a new lease of life after more than eight years as one of several buildings to be revitalised with a £2.23m grant.
Neighbours have been concerned about the site in Bath Road being used as a rubbish tip with needles and discarded furniture.
Earlier this month it was announced Swindon Council would receive a grant from the Homes and Communities Agency to build more than 100 homes around the borough.
Ten new council homes could be created in Townsend House under the plans for affordable housing.
Neighbours have welcomed the move to clean up the property but fear the implications of affordable housing in the area.
Margaret Byrne, the owner of the Gables B&B guesthouse, said: “We were not informed about the plans to turn this into council homes.
“And the last they said to us was that they would be converting it into homes for women.
“At least it is now going to be done up a little bit, because the place has been deteriorating for more than eight years.
“They took my wall down and put fencing up, which I will be looking to get replaced.
“Because the wall was a bit wobbly they thought they had to bring it down.
“It has been awful in there recently, and there have been syringes from drugs in there, and people using it as a dumping ground.
“People use the front of it to park their cars and there has been a pile of rubbish in there that just keeps growing.
“I was told that was going to be moved months ago but there are more settees and chairs in there now and no sign of it getting shifted.
“I am not sure council houses are the best thing to be putting in there, although there probably is a need for those.
“It has always been supported housing and I think it should be put over for over 55s now, because they need somewhere to live.
“I am concerned about where these new tenants will be parking considering that is already an issue while the property isn’t even being used.”
It is estimated that the total cost of the building programme will be £18.8m and a mixture of one, two and three-bedroomed homes will be built.
The Government grant will cover 20 per cent of the building costs with the remainder being funded through borrowing against rental income.
Rents for the new properties would be set at affordable levels – 80 per cent of market levels – to make the house building programme financially viable.
Council leader David Renard said: “This is excellent news for Swindon as it not only helps to address our need for affordable housing, but it also supports economic growth and will create jobs.
“This is the biggest house building programme in Swindon since the 1980s and it shows that we are committed to investing in our housing stock and providing sustainable homes for people who need them.”