Author Topic: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??  (Read 128082 times)

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Offline the gorgon

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #400 on: November 25, 2013, 02:38:37 PM »
Maybe they did have an influence if parking was cited as the reason for refusing planning permission - especially when Bristol Street car park is a matter of feet away. 

Could it be that Swindon town centre, with its inability to attract decent developers, is still suffering from decisions like that?  Architects talk to each other, developers talk to each other, architects and developers talk to each other.

Offline Karsten

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #401 on: November 25, 2013, 10:47:24 PM »
in the early 90's there was an Action Group but it was not the Trust which was not created until  97 or 98 I believe.
The Action Group raised public opinion against the plans for a Disco/Club not a hotel.

SBC denied the plans originally and the then owner appealed and the government overruled SBC decision and granted planning for the hotel.
An opinion poll showed people preferred a hotel to a club, yet the term 'Mechanic Dancing' I believe refers to the time the 1890 extension held a Jive Dance club.  So the MI has a history as a place for pleasure and dancing.

The NMIPT was originally set up to lobby for the Mechanics but the constituion of the charity was changed in 2001? to cover all buildings in danger in Swindon and the local area which watered down the NMIPT usefulness even more in my opinion.

You can't blame the trust for stalling or stopping any of the projects where planning was given.
So if a hotle suited the MI it would be one and the same for the dozen residential flats Matthew Singh boasted he would create.

I do think the MI have been a red herring but that is just my opinion.  They are not the villians the previous 2 owners are the ones that brought the MI to the state it is in now.
They didn't lose out on the building I'm sure.

FYI  the guy that originally bought the MI and wanted to create a club, bought the Corn Mill after reselling the MI and created the Mission. 
I seem to remember him telling me the MI was sold for only £15,000 by BR.
Even so he made a loss on it.
I didn't agree with everything he did to that building but his action and investment did save the building.
I spoke to him when he was developing the Mission,  he had NO kind words for SBC.
I think the main problem is that the building has been privately owned by single developers since it was sold by BR.
It should be owned by a group of people. 
Preferably by Swindon residents that are motivated to bring the building back to life, not develop it.

I've had responses from SBC about their intent for the building....
... only good and talks are being held... so same procedure as every year, Miss Sofie..

TSOL are deluged with cases so haven't looked at the case as yet.. :-(



ph1lc

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #402 on: November 25, 2013, 11:01:35 PM »
It should be owned by a group of people. 
Preferably by Swindon residents that are motivated to bring the building back to life, not develop it.


Yes - good idea - but therein lies the problem.

I know most of a social refurb can be grant funded   -BUT
Have you any idea what the cost of RUNNING a refurbished mechanics will be?

That was the problem with the trust. Their vision for the building simply didn't add up. Unless someone can come up with a solid business plan that means the building can pay for itself then it has to be developed.

The place is a sad indictment of a lot that is wrong with the town and the sooner we let this development happen the better.

Offline Spunkymonkey

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #403 on: November 25, 2013, 11:38:08 PM »
I have racked my brains trying to think of a use for the Mechanics that is in keeping with it's roots and has some commercial viability.

The best I can come up with is an interactive science museum along the lines of @Bristol.

STEAM was always going to struggle because most people will visit once and not return for several years. I have heard that SBC projections for visitor numbers were based on the railway museum in York. Unlike Swindon, York is a beautiful historic city with several attractions and lots of tourists.

An interactive museum might benefit from repeat visitors as the demand will be driven by children. The children will run around the building whilst Mum and Dad will enjoy an overpriced cappuccino and cake in the café. The same children will 'exit via the gift shop' and buy an over priced science related toy. Mum and Dad won't mind paying for it because it is educational.

The same venue could host science lectures, similar to the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, or Faraday Lectures that used to be held at Colston Hall.

Swindon is already home to the Science Museum at Wroughton and the various Science Research Councils. The town also has several large engineering/technology firms like BMW, Honda, Intel and Halcrow.

Could a building with a railway heritage have a science or engineering future? 

Offline Karsten

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #404 on: November 25, 2013, 11:38:18 PM »
You don't have to 'run' the buildling just manage it.

Camden Market is managed by one company as is the Outlet Village, not to mention the whole of Swindon town Centre.

But it is the individual companies, shops, businesses, etc that run their part.

The building is supposed to be in a mothballed state with the south Part a watertight building striped of anything of value. 
 The North Part is separated from the South by one door in the back wall of the Fly tower/Reading room.

It is 4 buildings in one. 
- the oldest Theatre in UK,
- the Fly Tower,
- the Reading room and what were
- the Council meeting rooms?  the 1890 Extensions West/East wings.

There was planning granted for turning the West/East wing into residential flats so a precedent has been set.

Perhaps the whole place could be a Wedding Hall/after party place people could hire for a cheap rent.
Or perhaps a second Jedi Church? (First church of Jedi is in Anglesey/Wales)
Swindon has its own Luke SkyWalker with his own shop not far from the MI?

The point is without owning it, it is just imagining not actioning...


Offline Karsten

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #405 on: November 25, 2013, 11:59:22 PM »
..
 The town also has several large engineering/technology firms like BMW, Honda, Intel and Halcrow.

Could a building with a railway heritage have a science or engineering future?

Well if you include AMEY, URS, Atkins, Great Western and not to mention NetworkRail and other smaller Rail engineering companies!
All these are within a short walk from the Mechanics;

Alexander House, Tri Centre 3, Milford House, Western House and SN1 (old council building opposite station)

Why not a smaller indoor market (The original tented market was part of the MI hence my MI logo).
In Wootten Bassett, the Lime Kiln is a similar impressive red brick/stone building turned into an smaller exhibition centre.

Many of these type of companies are interested in buildings like MI but no one is going to take anyone who doesn't own the building seriously.

Offline Tobes

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #406 on: November 26, 2013, 08:21:47 AM »
This is all still just pie-in-the-sky.

I'm sure we could all come up with lists of potentially viable ideas for its use. BUT as none of us are millionaires prepared to speculate and risk lose millions, this particular piece of pie and local sky remain resolutely separate things.

Comparisons with the outlet village are a bit daft tbh - for whilst its a good example of a successful re-use of a historical building, there's virtually no similarity with the far more complex situation faced by The mechanics: The outlet is a purely commercial enterprise, right from the off. It is surrounded by parking. The businesses involved there sell things, pure and simple. It is not subject to the waning popularity or tiny margins involved with things like theatre, libraries, galleries etc - things which are ALREADY subject to threat.

The only hope for the mechanics is to be in receipt of major heritage lottery funding - and then to have a council prepared to populate and organise much of the internal tennants, as per the Wyvern.

THAT would be my solution: The Wyvern's lifespan is now limited to a mere few years, due to the state of the decaying concrete. Use the Mechanics to replace the Wyvern complex (and all of the associated businesses located within it) and include a gallery - maybe offer a section to the Richard Jeffries crew etc - create a real quorum of cultural offerings which will see the place evolve as a creative crucible, a mixture of commercial and socially beneficial groups.

But the problem of sufficient parking will always remain a thorn in its side. The only viable way of addressing that I can see would be to lose a chunk of Farringdon park.
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

ph1lc

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #407 on: November 26, 2013, 08:39:03 AM »
You don't have to 'run' the buildling just manage it.
It is 4 buildings in one. 
- the oldest Theatre in UK,
- the Fly Tower,
- the Reading room and what were
- the Council meeting rooms?  the 1890 Extensions West/East wings.

 the MI?

The point is without owning it, it is just imagining not actioning...

No no no - that's virtually what the trust wanted. The main reason they were unable to deliver is that no-one who held the purse strings believed their plan was commercially viable.

Look public ownership is a lovely idea BUT unless the sums add up you are still bleating the same old nonsense that NMIPT were bleating.

ph1lc

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #408 on: November 26, 2013, 08:43:38 AM »
Many of these type of companies are interested in buildings like MI but no one is going to take anyone who doesn't own the building seriously.

Not true - the richest person I've ever met started out with nothing. Just a plan that would make money provided someone lent him money in the first place.

Come up with the idea and the rest is simple.

That after all is pretty much what Singh was doing. Virtually all the money that has been lost on the MI is borrowed. Had he got his planning the town would have lost an eyesore and he would have trousered a tidy wedge.

Offline Muggins

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #409 on: November 26, 2013, 08:50:55 AM »
No, no, no,  again , the Trust is a charitable company - in effect wholly a charity, the company is irrelevant, it just protects the trustees, it does not allow them to trade.

They did not own the building, however good their plan was or was not, they could not have raised the money to do it themselves.

If it was a viable plan to make money etc, they could only have persuaded some else to do it.

Without a lease, or purchase, no charitable 'money giving' trust could have donated it to them. 


Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline the gorgon

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #410 on: November 26, 2013, 12:16:57 PM »
You don't have to 'run' the buildling just manage it.
It is 4 buildings in one. 
- the oldest Theatre in UK,
- the Fly Tower,
- the Reading room and what were
- the Council meeting rooms?  the 1890 Extensions West/East wings.

 the MI?

The point is without owning it, it is just imagining not actioning...

No no no - that's virtually what the trust wanted. The main reason they were unable to deliver is that no-one who held the purse strings believed their plan was commercially viable.

Look public ownership is a lovely idea BUT unless the sums add up you are still bleating the same old nonsense that NMIPT were bleating.

Oldest theatre in the UK?  Isn't that the Theatre Royal which dates back to the 18th century?

ph1lc

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #411 on: November 26, 2013, 01:23:41 PM »
No, no, no,  again , the Trust is a charitable company - in effect wholly a charity, the company is irrelevant, it just protects the trustees, it does not allow them to trade.

They did not own the building, however good their plan was or was not, they could not have raised the money to do it themselves.

If it was a viable plan to make money etc, they could only have persuaded some else to do it.

Without a lease, or purchase, no charitable 'money giving' trust could have donated it to them.

I fail to get your point here.

Of course they didn't own the building - nor had they any hope of ever owning the building.

To anyone who wants to own the building, it has to be worth at least what Matthew Singh paid for it.

That's why the trust are forever damned. All they ever did was bleat about what they would like to see - they never came up with any sort of business plan that could have sustained the building.

Their main idea centred on a theatre (which Swindon doesn't need and it's looking like are going to have to subsidise the Arts Centre anyway) and a cafe, which is never going to produce serious revenue at that location.

I would guess that somewhere between 50 and 75% of the cost of the refurb could be grant funded.

The problem is therfore simple - come up with a business plan that can generate enough cash to run the building and service the rest of the capitaal cost and you would be surprised hoow easily it can be made a reality.

Offline moley

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #412 on: November 26, 2013, 08:45:55 PM »

But the problem of sufficient parking will always remain a thorn in its side. The only viable way of addressing that I can see would be to lose a chunk of Farringdon park.

Brunel Car parks are < 5 minutes walk...

Offline the gorgon

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #413 on: November 26, 2013, 09:17:00 PM »

But the problem of sufficient parking will always remain a thorn in its side. The only viable way of addressing that I can see would be to lose a chunk of Farringdon park.

Brunel Car parks are < 5 minutes walk...

Bristol Street car park is just across the road and has best 400+ spaces and with the Brunel nearby parking is a non-issue for whatever is proposed for the MI.

Offline Karsten

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #414 on: November 26, 2013, 11:57:20 PM »

To anyone who wants to own the building, it has to be worth at least what Matthew Singh paid for it.


So why did HSBC write off 2 £500k loans as bad debt? 
If they did it just to be kind, then they would have a hard time claiming any money back from insurance.

Singh said he paid 500+k but he borrowed 1m. 
Did he spend 500k on the MI?

How many people do you know who will bid 500k?
None.  In 2001-2002 there were no bids what so ever (except mine for £1000).
It was only after SBC started an Urgent Repairs notice that Mountmead had a buyer.


I believe the MI was officially valued back in 1999/2000 as worth £1 due to the state of the building.
As land it is worthless as you can't demolish the building.

If the TSOL get a new valuation and it says something similar who would pay 500k?

SBC could actually already have have asked TSOL to sell it or sign it over due to the outstanding charge.
SBC know there are no buyers interested and if it went to auction and didn't sell their only option would be to claim ownership as payment of the debt.
But they haven't as they don't want to due to the liabilities of a council owning a building like that.
No one told TSOL about the building until I notified them.

If SBC let the TSOL claim the building,  then the SBC charge will go as the TSOL accepts no liabilities.
The minimum bid needed to make a building claim worthy in the eyes of the TSOL is £1000 + 5-600 in costs.
The TSOL will value the building, auction it or offer it for sale at the highest price possible which could be the minimum bid if no one shows any interest.

When the TSOL start it should only take 3 months before the building is for sale again or sold for the highest offer.


As for parking, people should read the Felden and Clegg? report paid for by SBC in 2002?
It shows there is parking on both sides and the 'tunnel' puts the MI in the centre of a 'natural' path from the Outlet Centre to the Town/Brunel Centre.

Offline Tobes

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #415 on: November 27, 2013, 12:58:25 AM »
Quote
Brunel Car parks are < 5 minutes walk...

Bristol Street car park is just across the road and has best 400+ spaces and with the Brunel nearby parking is a non-issue for whatever is proposed for the MI.

 :idiot2:

A good percentage of people wanting to visit a theatre are going to be put off by being expected to walk even a mere 5 minutes of Chavopolis and its drunken denizens, as per the drive of other threads.
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Offline Muggins

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #416 on: November 27, 2013, 08:39:30 AM »
Not only that, if I was paying a wadge to stay overnight in an hotel, I wouldn't want to pay another wadge to park the car that far away - even if i could get in one of the car parks.

Are the car parks locked overnight too?
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

ph1lc

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #417 on: November 27, 2013, 08:44:16 AM »

To anyone who wants to own the building, it has to be worth at least what Matthew Singh paid for it.


So why did HSBC write off 2 £500k loans as bad debt? 
If they did it just to be kind, then they would have a hard time claiming any money back from insurance.

Singh said he paid 500+k but he borrowed 1m. 

Did he spend 500k on the MI?


If HSBC lent Singh £1mill then they had someone value the property for that.


Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #418 on: November 27, 2013, 11:21:51 AM »
Quote
Brunel Car parks are < 5 minutes walk...

Bristol Street car park is just across the road and has best 400+ spaces and with the Brunel nearby parking is a non-issue for whatever is proposed for the MI.

 :idiot2:

A good percentage of people wanting to visit a theatre are going to be put off by being expected to walk even a mere 5 minutes of Chavopolis and its drunken denizens, as per the drive of other threads.

So are they going to be any more enthusiastic about walking from Garry's new £15m Christmas Tree lit Car Park near Whalebridge to get to the Wyvern then Tobes?   On the basis of your argument they will not!!

I would suggest that it would appear the good people in the Trust do not understand or want to understand the way in which business works and how to deal with any form of fundraising or they would have done it and already have it in hand!

Unless there is someone or something actually addressing these issues it is now very important that the Trust step aside and let someone who actually understands these very important aspects and can actually put a Plan together which is both Costed in detail, Viable and Achievable.

The Trust has had more than enough time to formulate how they are going to 'make it happen' and from where I am sitting they show absolutely no potential for 'delivering the goods', and The Mechanics' will continue to rot until such time as the budget cuts demand the removal of any form of cost to the Council Tax Paying Public of Swindon.  After all the Administration is seeking £15m worth of savings from next year's budget.
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Offline Tobes

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Re: Mechanics Institute - Just what is going on??
« Reply #419 on: November 27, 2013, 06:34:44 PM »
Quote
So are they going to be any more enthusiastic about walking from Garry's new £15m Christmas Tree lit Car Park near Whalebridge to get to the Wyvern then Tobes?   On the basis of your argument they will not!!

Lets see! I suspect it will have a negative effect on a section of potential Wyvern customers. Mind you, the truth which dare not speak its name is that the Wyvern is increasingly decrepit and is suffering from serious decay and degradation of its concrete. 'A few years' is the maximum lifespan I've heard touted. Quite how true it is I guess depends on who's promoting the next stage of regeneration - but who will be 'surprised or amazed' to find out that whatever building replaces the old Wyvern will be built near Garry's new Car Park...?  ::)

I also agree with you about The Trust. There's no doubting their passion about preserving the building and they've been excellent at keeping the issue in the public eye. But you are right to point out that raising finance and coming up with a truly viable commercial plan to ensure its continued safety is not their forte.

Quote
The Trust has had more than enough time to formulate how they are going to 'make it happen' and from where I am sitting they show absolutely no potential for 'delivering the goods', and The Mechanics' will continue to rot until such time as the budget cuts demand the removal of any form of cost to the Council Tax Paying Public of Swindon.  After all the Administration is seeking £15m worth of savings from next year's budget.

That is indeed an entirely reasonable concern.
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'