A VICTORIAN school in Radnor Street will have to be restored to its former condition.

The historic Clifton Street School is in a terrible state, with parts demolished and massive holes in the roof.

Its owner, property developer Sukh Mander, started to knock down part of the building in the summer of 2018. He told a judge at Swindon Magistrates' Court he didn’t think he needed planning permission to do that.

But his appeal against an order to restore it by Swindon Borough Council was thrown out.

The authority’s cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, transport and planning, Gary Sumner said: “I am delighted with this judgment. It shows that we will stop at nothing to protect Swindon’s heritage from developers who allow sites to fall into a poor condition of disrepair.

“In this case, the developers lost their appeal against our decision to refuse them planning permission and now they have lost the appeal against our maintenance notice.

"This is a significant victory for everybody in Swindon who cares about protecting the town’s rich heritage.”

Mr Mander wants to covert the former primary school, opposite the entrance to Clifton Street near the town centre, into 10 flats.

The council rejected his retrospective application for planning permission. Work stopped on the building and tarpaulins were laid across the roof, but blew off during a winter storm in 2019 and have not been replaced.

The decision by Judge Joanna Dickens after full day hearing at the magistrates’ court last week followed by written submissions was that the council did not issue an unlawful enforcement notice.

Mr Mander’s contention was that the authority had used the wrong section of the law to issue the order, saying the condition of the building affected the surrounding area and people living nearby – rather than because he had begun demolition without planning consent.

Judge Dickens was not convinced and found in favour of the council.

Mr Mander was philosophical when he learned of the verdict, telling the Adver: “That’s the way it goes.”