Author Topic: Mechanics - new plans submitted  (Read 1578 times)

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Mechanics - new plans submitted
« on: July 21, 2006, 11:06:36 am »
It's a five-star dream for Mechanics

THE Mechanics' Institute is to be bolted on to an eight-storey hotel under £20m plans to be unveiled by the building's owner.

Developer Mathew Singh is to apply for permission to build a 104-room hotel tower attached to the landmark building in Faringdon Road.

The Mechanics' building itself will include a small cinema and stage, as well as conference facilities and bars and restaurants.

Mr Singh said he was confident these latest plans, which were a smaller development than before, would receive the thumbs up from English Heritage.

Mr Singh, who bought the listed building in 2003, will unveil the full plans today.

He said he already has a major European company keen to move in to the hotel building, which would also include a gymnasium which would be open to the public.

Mr Singh said the plan offered the chance for community, arts and culture groups to take up space in the revamped institute building.

He said a planning application would be submitted to the council by the end of the month.

If that went smoothly, builders could start work by Christmas, he said.

Mr Singh said he wanted community, arts and culture groups to be at home in the complex.

"The community will be very much involved, very much at the front of it," he said.

Mr Singh said he had compromised on the design, making it smaller. Now it was time for the council and English Heritage to meet him halfway.

"Last time they objected to the size and bulk of it," he said. "This is smaller."

The middle fly tower, built in the 1930s, would come down as part of the plan.

"It's an eyesore," Mr Singh said.

He said 10 townhouses in the original plan had been abandoned.

South Swindon MP Anne Snelgrove has cautiously welcomed the plans to save the Mechanics' Institute.

"This is much more sympathetic to the building than former plans," she said.

"There is a reduction in size and bulk in the proposed new development.

"I am pleased Mathew is taking forward the commitment to community use for the institute building itself.

"I have always said Mathew's commitment to the building is impressive and sincere.

"However, it's very important the community is behind any proposed plan."

The plan follows the English Heritage Register of Buildings at Risk report published last week that rated the Mechanics' Institute among the most vulnerable in the country.

The institute was given an "A" rating of being at "immediate risk of further rapid deterioration or loss of fabric" without a plan for its future.

"The register of buildings at risk gives the parties involved a renewed impetus to find a solution and save the building," Mrs Snelgrove said.

"We need to regain status for this iconic building that was a key part of Swindon's social and industrial heritage.

"I want to see a solution for the many residents who have been keen to see the building saved for the future."

Important building

Described by many as the town's most important and significant site, the Mechanics' foundation stone was laid in 1854.

The institute was set up a decade before with the object of "disseminating useful knowledge and encouraging rational amusement amongst all classes of people employed by the Great Western Railway".

The Mechanics' Institute was officially opened on May 1, 1855, and soon became a central part of the railway community.

Known to generations of Swindonians simply as The Mechanics', the building featured a theatre/assembly hall, a coffee room, council room, dining room, washing baths, as well as the large library with a reading room.

Since the railway works closed in 1986 the massive building, which was extended over the years, has fallen into disrepair.

In February 1999 the Department of Culture, Media and Sport awarded the building a listing of Grade II* thanks to the hard work of the New Mechanics' Institution.

This grading put the building in the top six per cent of all listed buildings and in 2003 it was bought by businessman Mathew Singh.

10:24am today

By Daniel Knowles


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Re: Mechanics - new plans submitted
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2006, 11:11:42 am »
Saw the plans today for the 1st time

it's a 3 or 4*hotel that's planned
the glass tower has gone!  :)
there will be a replacement of the fly-tower, but it's brick & smaller than the previous plans

went inside the building for the 1st time in 3 1/2 years, still holding up very well.  1 of the party with me had never been in before & was amazed at what good state the structure was in - but it still needs to be done up inside.

Offline Tobes

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Re: Mechanics - new plans submitted
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2006, 09:07:14 pm »
Mjad - if you guys can get this done, you will really have justified the votes people gave you ... Fingers crossed for a solution after all these years! (very appropriate if it can be announced on the 20th anniversary of its closure?)
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - Voltaire 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita


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