It's very easy for things to get a bit lost in August, especially this year with the extreme heat and lack of rain, followed, for me by my first bout of Covid. Still isolating, I'm attempting to catch up with Friends' news, starting with the Press Release from South Swindon Parish Council about their expression of interest in Apsley House, where the former Swindon Museum and Art Gallery was housed for 60 years. It was possible for the parish council to trigger a six month moratorium because the Friends applied for Apsley House to be declared an Asset of Community Value; this was accepted, and we hope Apsley House can remain in community use.
Here it is:
South Swindon Parish Council triggers
six months moratorium for the sale of Apsley House museum and art gallery.
At a meeting of its Full Council on
the 19th July 2022 (Min. 2223-49) it was resolved by South Swindon Parish Council
South Swindon Parish Council, defined
as a Community Interest Group in The Assets of Community Value (England)
Regulations 2012 Section 12(a), will express an interest in Apsley House.
As of the 27th July 2022 per the
Localism Act 2011 Section 95, the Parish Council has given formal notice to
Swindon Borough Council to be treated as a potential bidder in relation to the
land and buildings and therefore commence the moratorium of six months from the
date of notification.
Statement from Chris Watts, Chair,
South Swindon Parish Council:
“I was pleased to have proposed the
motion to the Parish Full Council meeting and also pleased to have received
unanimous cross-party support. The moratorium will give time and space for the
Parish Council to survey the structure, investigate the potential of the
facility and produce a feasibility study and business proposal.
We were disappointed that Swindon
Borough Council did not give due consideration to the previous proposal to
temporarily transfer the facility to the Parish Council to run whilst the town
waited ten to fifteen years for the cultural quarter project to come to
fruition. The closure of the Museum and Art Gallery was a great loss to Old
Town and the wider community and, as a listed building, Apsley House is an
iconic piece of Swindon history and heritage as demonstrated by the level of
outcry when the Museum and Art Gallery was closed.”
Statement from Neil Hopkins, Chair of
Leisure and Amenities, South Swindon Parish Council:
In the five years that the Parish has
been in existence we have been committed, not only to protecting and renovating
heritage assets, but ensuring that these assets are put back into use.
When we took the lease for the formal
parks in 2019, they were tired, run down, underinvested and at risk, if not for
the heroic work of the gardeners in difficult times. Regenerating the formal
parks has allowed us to increase events, such as music concerts, outdoors
theatre and the Enchanted Gardens Christmas Lights. It is this style of
progressive policy towards Parish Council assets that ensure we can provide
much needed amenity, service and value for money for residents.
By triggering the moratorium we would
seek to apply the same values and principles to Apsley House and will be working
hard to attain this goal if indeed it is feasible for the Parish to take on
Statement from SOMAG
(Save Our Museum and Gallery Group):
''We fully support the South Swindon Parish
Council in its bid to bring Apsley House back into community use. This landmark
listed building, which belongs to the people of Swindon, has been closed to the
public for almost two and a half years. If it is sold into private ownership
there will be no guarantees about its future.
“However, South Swindon Parish Council already has
a proven track record of approaching projects with vision and innovation, as
well as making them pay their way. This is an amazing opportunity to repurpose
this wonderful piece of Swindon’s heritage, protect it and breathe new life
into it. We look forward to working very closely with the parish council and
offering whatever support we can to help make this bid a success.”
Coincidentally the Swindon Advertiser have also published this today:
Parish council seeking to purchase closed Swindon Museum and Art Gallery | Swindon Advertiser