University's Oakfield campus may be demolished
8:10am Thursday 7th May 2009 in By James Wallin
THE fate of the abandoned Oakfield Campus seems to have been sealed after an application to demolish the site was submitted.
The campus, in Marlowe Avenue, has been empty since the summer of 2008 when the University of Bath pulled out of Swindon.
Now the university, which still holds the lease, has agreed to knock the building down before handing the site back to Swindon Council.
No plans for the future of the site have been announced.
One ward councillor insists it should be used for educational purposes and a former cabinet member says the area is ripe for redevelopment.
A spokesman for the University of Bath said: “Since the closure of the Oakfield campus last year the university has been looking into options for the future use of the site in consultation with Swindon Council as its freeholder.
“Regrettably, no suitable opportunities have arisen and the university, again in consultation with the council, is applying for permission to demolish the existing buildings as part of an agreed surrender of the site back to Swindon Council.”
Ward councillor Steve Allsopp said: “It seems to me a significant waste of resources.
“I just hope we don’t find ourselves in years to come looking to expand the colleges and having thrown away a perfectly good building.
“I would like to see it used for educational purposes and that’s something that I have heard a lot from residents.
“I think the administration have had their minds made up for a while on what needed to be done.
“The Oakfield campus is part of the green lung so any development would have to take consideration of that fact.”
Coun Nick Martin, the former lead member for property, leisure and recreation, said: “What you have to bear in mind is that the campus is a very expensive building to maintain.
“The cost is probably around £330,000 a year and at a time when the 09/10 budget was being set it was important to consider seriously if we could afford to spend that amount of money. This was not a decision taken in isolation.”
But Coun Martin was clear that the decision to demolish the building lay with the university rather than with the council.
He said: “Swindon Council spent a large amount of money on the site and in allocating it to the University of Bath because we thought we would have a world-class university presence in the town for the foreseeable future.
“Bath decided against staying in Swindon and now we expect them to return the site to us in a condition we can use.
“What I am pleased about is that the sports pitches will remain. There is a covenant on the pitches which allocates them for recreational use.”
Coun Martin said no decision had been made on a future use for the site but that housing was the most likely prospect.
He said: “Clearly that’s a serious consideration. We are doing the rebuilding work on the shops. It’s an obvious site for future redevelopment.”
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