Swindon landmark Apsley House is in line for a radical new look after the council agreed to sell it to a developer.
The Grade II-listed building is the former home of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery but was vacated at the start of Covid.
Local developer Arthur Dallimer (pictured left) has agreed a deal with the council. His Apsley Corner proposals include a potential 90-seat indoor and outdoor restaurant, a 30-seat cafe in the old listed house, a co-work space, and five retail units.
Mr Dallimer has pledged to start work straight away if his plans are approved and that the new development could be open as early as next year.
His bid was promoted on a website he set up which attracted 150 messages from business leaders, interest groups and members of the public.
Cllr Keith Williams, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for climate change, finance and commercialisation (pictured right) said: “Apsley House is a much-loved building and I am really excited to see Mr Dallimer’s development come forward.
“He put forward an incredibly strong bid not just in terms of the price offered, but also for his vision for the site which was strongly supported by the local community.
“I look forward to seeing Apsley House brought back to life and it would be fantastic to see this popular corner of Old Town bustling with activity in the future.”
Mr Dallimer said: “I am overwhelmed to have gained so much public support and subsequently being awarded the sale. My task now is to get my design into planning within two to three months, and get approval from the council and interested parties like English Heritage, which have to be consulted on the listed building.
“I will, however, move quickly to enable this development and the community has my commitment to achieving planning, completing the restoration and development, and finding the best mix of independent tenants, while protecting the existing tenants’ lease arrangements.
“As I’m Swindon born, this building has been a key part of my childhood, as it has been for many Swindon residents. I’m excited to be bringing it back to life and for the community to use as a commercial space.”
Richard Deacon, chair of the Old Town Business Association, said the scheme would be a beacon for Swindon’s Old Town area.
He added: “The association heavily supported Arthur’s plans and we will continue to work with him to help attract independent operators and ensure that it becomes a seamless addition to the successful business community of Old Town.”
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