Save Swindon's Heritage - 1 & 3 Faringdon Road
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This petition has been set up following the recent news that Swindon Borough Council plans to re-develop two important heritage assets, No's 1 & 3 Faringdon Road, into flats.
We are petitioning Swindon Borough Council to halt the re-development of these premises until a consultation has been held, including discussions with local community and heritage organisations, and all options have been explored and considered.
Until very recently, No's 1 & 3 Faringdon Road were not owned by Swindon Borough Council but were left and held in trust for the benefit of the community by WG Little, a deceased former Alderman who built the premises in 1892, with Swindon Borough Council as the sole Trustee of the WG Little Trust.
There are two aims of the WG Little Trust fund:
1) Financial support for further education for disadvantaged young people
2) Concerts in the town's pleasure gardens (Town Gardens and the GWR Park)
The purpose of leaving the buildings in trust was so that they could be rented out and earn funds to supply the WG Little Trust with ongoing income which could be redistributed for the above aims. If these buildings are sold off as flats they will cease to provide this service to our community.
Furthermore, the premises have a long history of community and voluntary sector use and have housed organisations such as Citizens Advice, Voluntary Action Swindon and the Swindon Racial Equality Council since at least the 1960s, further adding to the community heritage and significance.
The buildings have been greatly neglected over recent years with no investment spent on their upkeep. The Council could have chosen to invest money from the trust's own income (not the public purse), which is believed to be around £100,000, which would have ensured the buildings remained in use, as originally intended, and continued to provide an income for the Trust, serving the community for many more years to come.
Despite this neglect, No 1 (Faringdon House) is believed to be in usable condition with only minimal modernising needed to continue to rent the buildings out as offices for community organisations. No 3 (Past & Present) however is in poor condition and would need investment to bring it up to a usable standard (this could be achieved however by working in partnership with local community / charitable organisations who can raise funds for such projects).
However, Forward Swindon, a company fully owned and funded by Swindon Borough Council with a remit for economic development, have in recent months secretly applied to the Charity Commission to have the buildings removed from the WG Little Trust. Sadly, this application was successful.
It can only be imagined that these buildings are now in the ownership of either Swindon Borough Council or Forward Swindon, so we believe there is a still a hope that these premises can be saved from their current fate. With these assets no longer held in trust, it is likely that the flats will be sold to private owners, even though they were left for the benefit of our local community.
To date there has been no consultation with the community on the future of these buildings and efforts to have the buildings listed as 'Assets of Community Value' have been turned down by SBC. Several attempts for conversations by local community organisations have been made in recent years but also fallen on deaf ears.
If there are no other options available for these premises, which are more respectful of our heritage and our local community, then we accept that something must be done and that they cannot sit there empty. However, we believe that there are other options that should be explored openly and positively before jumping to such a permanent and irreversible conclusion.
It is believed that in January 2017 Forward Swindon will be pursuing this development rapidly. Signing this petition should help halt the process to enable public scrutiny and until other options can and have been considered.
For more information on this issue see the recent Adver article: http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/14983921.Buildings_left_in_trust_to_the_community_to_be_turned_into_flats/
For more information on WG Little and his legacy see:
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