A lifeline could be thrown to Apsley House, the home of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery by South Swindon Parish Council.

But it looks unlikely Swindon Borough Council will grasp it.

South Swindon councillors agreed unanimously to put a proposal to take over the building in Bath Road and re-open the museum and gallery to the borough council.

The plan would be to make the repairs necessary to re-open the building with its exhibits and also to bring in the Old Town library as a way of encouraging more people through the door.

Chairman of the parish council Chris Watts said: “This was agreed cross party. The idea is to consolidate it with Old Town library, which would bring more people to it.

“We think we can re-open it and turn it around, as we did with Old Town library, particularly for education and purposes.

“It’s very important to the people of Old Town and the people of Swindon that we have the museum and gallery open.”

Coun Watts said it wasn’t just residents who were keen to see the museum and gallery re-open. “We’ve had a letter from the chairman of the Old Town Traders’ association saying how important it is for the area.”

The parish council’s proposal would see it given a short-term lease of up to 10 years for the building and the £400,000 the borough council had set aside for repairs to Apsley House.

But despite borough council leader David Renard saying last week that his administration would listen to any proposal the parish council had, it appears unlikely that it will proceed with South Swindon’s offer.

Cabinet member for leisure and culture Rob Jandy said it was keen to move ahead with its agreed plan to show more of the art collection and artefacts upstairs in the Civic Offices in Euclid Street, as well as in pop-up galleries, until a new purpose-built museum and gallery could be built.

The council is aiming to have that done as part of its cultural quarter plans within the decade.

Coun Jandy said: “We were interested to hear what the parish council’s proposition entailed but, as a council, it is imperative we make the best use of our assets on behalf of the Swindon taxpayer.

"We cannot spend a large amount of money repairing Apsley House only to hand it to the parish council because the money from the sale of the building will be needed to support the new cultural quarter including the new Art and Museum Pavilion.

"This has been discussed extensively and agreed by cabinet.

He said: “Our ability to make the best use of the museum and art gallery’s fantastic and extensive collection, has been severely compromised by the condition of Apsley House.

"The issues with the backlog of maintenance have been widely reported not to mention the upgrades to heating and importantly, the improvements required to assist with accessibility. This stifles and inhibits the Council’s ability to maximise the visibility of the collections and develop both educational programmes and commercial activities.

“We therefore need a venue which helps us achieve these objectives in the medium-term while we move towards delivering the cultural quarter for Swindon. The expectation would be that any medium-term solution must provide a level of accessibility and display that is higher than the current provision at Apsley House.

“The many problems associated with Apsley House will not be alleviated with a change in guardianship. We firmly believe that the new civic venue will provide increased display space compared to Apsley House, improved accessibility, more opportunity for increased education and group activities, in a central location with plentiful parking.

"In contrast the parish council’s proposal would necessitate significant improvements to Apsley House which could not be opened whilst any works are ongoing and would also remove the only two disabled accessible rooms in the current museum by converting them to strategic book space, meaning the proportion of the collections that can be displayed would be reduced, thus resulting in more of our collections having to be put into storage.”