Wiltshire

Swindon Mechanics Institute: Petition to save 'neglected' building

Interior of the Mechanics' Institute Image copyright TheSecretVault
Image caption The "derelict state" of the building's interior was revealed by "urban explorers"

More than 2,000 people have signed a petition urging a council to save a historic building being "wilfully neglected" by its owner.

The petition calls on Swindon Borough Council to issue a compulsory purchase order to the owner of the Grade II* listed Mechanics Institute.

The former rail building has been derelict since 1986.

Sally Hawson, from Save Swindon's Heritage, said owner Forefront Estates Ltd was failing to preserve it.

Matthew Singh of Forefront Estates was unavailable for comment.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The council is working with Historic England to find "a sustainable solution"

Ms Hawson, who set up the petition, said she was forced to act after so-called "urban explorers" entered the building and posted a video of its "poor state".

She said: "After watching the film, I felt that I could not just sit by and do nothing.

"It has suffered for decades at the hands of people who do not appreciate what they have, and if we don't make a huge effort to save it now, it will be gone forever."

Dale Heenan, from the council, added: "The current owner has shamefully left it in a derelict state, but I am determined to find a solution.

"The building is currently in private ownership and the council simply does not have the resources to take on the responsibility."

The council is working with Historic England to find "a sustainable solution".

Historic England said: "We're taking steps to determine the costs of restoring the building, and when those costs are known we'll begin an appraisal of what the building could be used for."

Image copyright Chris Allen/Geograph
Image caption The council was forced to repair the building in 2011 after the owner removed the roof

The Mechanics' Institute opened in 1854 as an educational centre for railway workers but closed in 1986.

Mr Singh bought the building in 2003 and planned to develop it, but no work has taken place.

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