Author Topic: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why  (Read 56857 times)

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Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #20 on: September 23, 2010, 05:59:46 PM »
Daniel I don't doubt you have mountains of documents correspondance and research but unless you share some of it you will might as well have one of those bonfires at the bunker.

Its called PR you should know by now which documents will help the cause so come on here with them and publish please.

And could you please say what is your perspective on the last few weeks of developments?
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Offline Daniel Rose

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #21 on: September 23, 2010, 09:25:55 PM »
My perspective on the last few weeks. Certainly been eventful and while it wasn't quite the gentle return from holiday I'd expected its a good job I'm refreshed and rested! Anyway...

I've tried to keep upbeat about the current situation because believe it or not there is opportunity in all this, however my feeling is as follows:
1) We should not be at the point where this emergency work (the work to the roof) is taking place at all for several reasons. Firstly the owner removed tiles from the North roof, used them on the South end and proceeded to leave the north roof exposed to the elements which has considerably deteriorated the state of the theatre. The official EH photos in 2003 showed the theatre in pretty good condition and even the illegal photos available online from 2 years ago are still relatively good. The Theatres Trust were also shocked at the pictures I showed them the other day compared to the last time they visited 18 months ago. There is no good reason why an owner would remove tiles from a roof for that period of time, so that raises the question - Given the fact the owner had previously tried and failed to get permission to demolish was this done on purpose? So from this perspective its a good job the Council are taking this action now before this possible plan came to its natural end. I.e. the north end is falling down or has caused a major public risk and necessitates demolition being granted. This so far appears to have been avoided (but I'm nervous each day I walk past, hoping nothing has gone wrong).
Secondly. The Council could/should have stepped in much sooner regarding the Urgent Works Notice and perhaps this situation could of been avoided - certainly if this had happened in 2002 or indeed at anytime in last 2 years when this has been on the cards but slowly executed which apart from the conservation issue is now costing a lot more money.

2) I'm not an architect or structural engineer but I questioned when I first got back the fact that it appeared that there was no conservation specialist on site or specialist conservation contractors doing the work. I'm not casting any opinion on SCS or staff on-site but its rather unusual in these circumstances not to use specialists. Having raised these questions I got the distinct message that there is a difference of opinion between SBC and EH over the course of action and the choice of contractor. I decided not to make a big issue out of this at the time but I was very surprised to see EH say this publicly today in the Adver. EH are usually pretty bland and official in their public comment. So a question mark remains on what this is all about. This oddity aside, my principle concern is that conservation of the structure and theatre be of paramount importance during these works (apart from public safety of course). The guys on-site have been incredibly professional, helpful and friendly to myself and the Trust so I must get that on the record to be fair.

To the more positive:
The good part of all this is that it has focused everyone's attention both public, politicians and stakeholders. A big wake-up call much needed and overdue to sit down, be constructive and work together to secure a solution. I've been keeping very positive about the fact that I believe this situation is absolutely solvable and the Mechanics' can deliver a great outcome for the town. Also in terms of public attention as annoying as many drivers or bus users have been again at least it pushes this issue to forefront of their minds and bring about serious questions and the will to do something. Its also been good from the Trust's perspective - again because of the situation its focused communication with stakeholders - all have been more positive and open to dialogue with the Trust (in some cases this has been lacking in years).

So the big caveat:
The Trust's relationship with SBC. It is essential that the Trust re-establishes (or even establishes in the first place) a productive, open, honest relationship. As the local authority and planning authority they are one of the most important stakeholders. As much as I'm worried and weary of their past actions and current thinking (whatever that may be, some alluded to on this forum) this relationship is key to resolving the issue postively.

The owner:
Some people say "where does the owner fit into all this"? By my reckoning and by examples from elsewhere there are several outcomes here:
1) The Council complete the Urgent Works and send the owner the bill and he pays. The matter of the recovery of funds is solved but leaves all the fundamental issues no further on. I.e. the owner has still not got plans and proposals of the right scale, use and viability to restore the building given its listing. What happens then is unknown.
2) The owner fails to pay and decides to hand over the building in exchange for the hefty bill.
3) The owner fails to pay and contests by some legal angle and/or the Council initiate a Compulsory Purchase Order to recover the money and safeguard the building in the public interest.
4) The owner sells the building. 

I haven't put any of my opinions against these options outlined above but would be interested in hearing your views. Plus I may of missed an option.

Think that's it for now.



Offline komadori

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #22 on: September 23, 2010, 10:39:30 PM »
Your option (3) is actually two options:
3a) The Owner fails to pay and contests by some legal angle <-- which itself is two options - contests and wins, and contests and loses;
3b) The Owner fails to pay and the Council initiate a Compulsory Purchase Order to recover the money.

(3a) has the maximum potential for the building remaining a rotting hulk for the longest period of time.

One extra option: as the owner has both planning permission and a Drinks Licence for the southern part of the building, is there a possibility that he might try to sell it in two halves?
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Offline Daniel Rose

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #23 on: September 24, 2010, 09:06:16 AM »
Your option (3) is actually two options:
3a) The Owner fails to pay and contests by some legal angle <-- which itself is two options - contests and wins, and contests and loses;
3b) The Owner fails to pay and the Council initiate a Compulsory Purchase Order to recover the money.

(3a) has the maximum potential for the building remaining a rotting hulk for the longest period of time.

One extra option: as the owner has both planning permission and a Drinks Licence for the southern part of the building, is there a possibility that he might try to sell it in two halves?

Your right option 3 is 2 separate options.

As for the additional option you put forward I would hope not. Firstly the idea that the building is 2 separate buildings has been floated in the past and the Trust strongly disagrees - the building is one and must be considered as a whole from both a planning, regeneration and use point of view. This would be what I call the Frankenstein option.

The Drinks License was an attempt to artificially inflate the buildings value with no clear plan or justification to support it. That is minor compared to the planning permission issue.

The Planning Permission the owner obtained for the south end is a example of bad judgment on the part of Planning. The scheme was clearly contrary to PPG.15 and the owner put forward such little detail and no conservation plan (a consistent theme). How it could of even been considered was deeply worrying at the time. The Trust objected on these grounds. Since then an important thing has happened. The Central Area Action Plan forced the Council to change its policy towards the Mechanics' and observe PPG.15, with this new policy Planning Permission would not be granted today for such a scheme. There is a case for rescinding the permission but I don't see that coming. Moreover the work that the owner has carried out under this permission is questionable in terms of being in-line with the permission granted, safe and carried out to an acceptable standard. Its quite well known that the work undertaken has been professionally described as a "death-trap" and could be condemned.

Apart from all that who would want to buy the building given its current condition and planning history not to mention the state of the property market and developers. As the Trust has said all along there is no private commercial viability for the building. That of course doesn't mean he wouldn't try and offload it (just as the previous owner had done to him).

Offline Mellon

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #24 on: September 24, 2010, 12:51:06 PM »
So just because the trust says there's "no commercial viability" it won't let the property owner sort it out.......in my opinion that's pathetic, seriously pathetic. If planning was allowed and previous history suggested it had green lights, someone somewhere (not going to mention names) has seriously screwed that building over. Its a cracking building and I do enjoy a walk past it and other historical buildings within swindon. Its a place I'd like to take my grandfather but then I revert back over the past 15 years and feel sorry for the building and its owner. The Mechanics Institute has real potential as a commercial viability in which it could be preserved and history restored.

Even the workers at the know the history of planning applications and most of them agree that it would make a cracking nightclub.....but I disagree, I'd rather see it as a hotel where it would look after itself. It may sound stupid that I get angry over the building, but what I get really angry about is that its been denied any chance of coming back to life and being part of the town rather than being a shady spot in swindon where not a lot of people know the history.

There are 2 main Culprits in this:
1 : Swindon Borough Council
2 : The Mechanics Trust

Through whatever means you have condemned this building to the state it is in today, and finally I leave you with this.

Change is not always a bad thing, History are things that have happened and leave lessons, The future is what you make it, so make the mechanics the future
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Offline Muggins

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #25 on: September 24, 2010, 01:43:40 PM »
Again Mellon, you are giving credit to the Trust for having that much power - they haven't, as a "group of private individuals" and
"a specialist interest" group , they would not have had any power over it at all, the power came via the support of much more powerful national organisations and the LAW on building preservation.  And of course many many local people liking their plan for it better than the developers.

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 Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #26 on: September 24, 2010, 02:06:34 PM »
Muggins
I don't think the trust realise the power they have weilded.

Under pps5 - the council can grant planning to the owner unless the building can pass into public / trust ownership with a viable plan for its preservation/ use.

They convinced the inspector they did, which made it impossible to grant planning.
Clearly they haven't - some time down the line and they have not moved forward.

As to people preferring thier plan - on a purely asthetic viewpoint maybe. BUT given that their plan is unlikely to be self funding and the likely cost to the taxpayer me thinks people would take the owners plan.

Offline Muggins

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #27 on: September 24, 2010, 02:39:32 PM »
I don't doubt that they have influenced procedure over the years, but they would have been unable to do this without having a good case to bring in bigger guns.

As to people/public liking their plan better, if they are not correct in this, it will be proven should it ever come to planning.
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 MikeHeal

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #28 on: February 18, 2011, 11:48:19 AM »
Here's a thought,
In 1997 I was asked to be part of a development team as part of my role as head of Music of Redcar and Cleveland College, to create a new Performing Arts centre,
 A detailed consultation process was undertaken and as a result I was personally involved in seeking funding to make the project happen. By the end of 1999 we had raised over 1 million pounds for the building of this centre with the greatest majority coming from European Social funding in total £500,000.
If this building is central to our community and its current owner is willing to send and there is already a group willing to move a project forward why don’t the council work with this group and seek out the funding available in this month’s funding digest (a email I receive every month form Swindon Borough Council) this possible starting point: Heritage Lottery – Townscape Heritage initiative this initiative offers To help communities to regenerate historic parts of their towns and cities.
It is open to Non profit organisations and can offer help £500,000 to £2,000,000.
This is just one and only a quick scan I am sure that the EU social fund will have plenty more options.
I think I still have on discs all of the work I did in the late 90’s. If I can do this from a sick bed how is not possible that our Council can’t do it with all their talented officers?
I for one would love to see the provision of a Performing Arts centre with dance studios, recording facilities, conference centre and Theatre space The list could go on. This building could do all of these things and provide a great community resource.
People need to think out of the box.

Offline MikeHeal

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #29 on: February 24, 2011, 10:39:46 PM »
Where ever we are at present the truth is, if something isn't done resonably soon the building willbe beyond any chance of renovation.
as a talking shop this as been great. If there is a trustee group and we need to form a new group that can do some thng. I know there are funding streams out there that we can tap into. Under the Big Socitey for example or one of the many community start up funds. If there is a genuine desire to do this then we need to support Karsten. Let's get the group up and running, I will as part of the group do my best to find every funding opportunity out there and in necessary do the application on behalf of the group. Two of us aren't enough we need more and those of you with a larger voice withinthe community could mean the difference between failure or success.

Time to put up or shut up. This building deserves better than it has so far been given. Swindon deserves a building that belongs to the whole community and why shouldn't we celebrate our Rail heritage? After all every town/city that has seems to have re-created themselves and created a tourist trade simply on that rebirth.

Now there's a challenge?

Offline I Could Do That

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #30 on: February 24, 2011, 11:04:54 PM »
I pledged a donation, of a grand, previously, on this site.
If the ball started rolling, in the right direction, I would do much more.
However I have reservations with the Karsten scheme.
Raising £50k, as an incentive to get SBC on side, is all very well, but will they get on side?
SBC have shown no previous concern for the community heritage of Swindon.
I would not Trust SBC to make correct use of my funding, if renovation did not get initiated.
Karsten appears to have a desire to be "elected", on the back of a campaign.
Karsten has dismissed my portrayal of the historic "community value" of the building, so how come he wants to save it?
It's not difficult to figure out, that personal ego has previously got between himself and the trust. What's that all about?
Basic security dictates, if something doesn't make sense, be very cautious.
Has anyone approached SBC, to ask them, if they'll grow some civic pride, and CPO the building, in exchange for our hard earned cash?
Has anyone offered a similar business plan to the trust?
What sort of restoration / usage are we after?
If it resembles the tower plan, my money's going elsewhere.
I'm not interested in propping up someone's personal ego / election campaign, or personal agenda.
I am still prepared to make a substantial donation. I've previously made it very clear, this building means a lot to me, but seriously doubting this proposal.
Proud to be gone

Offline 20Eyes

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #31 on: February 24, 2011, 11:18:42 PM »
If the ball started rolling, in the right direction, I would do much more.

The odd paragraph break, now and again, and a crash course in how to use commas wouldn't go amiss  O0

(Just giving as good as I get, before you start running off crying to Geoffrey)
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Offline I Could Do That

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #32 on: February 24, 2011, 11:23:58 PM »
Nobody's crying.
You over estimate your own importance
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Offline 20Eyes

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #33 on: February 24, 2011, 11:25:07 PM »
Nobody's crying.
You over estimate your own importance

well, I certainly seem very important to you  :angel:
"Censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime." ~ Potter Stewart

Offline I Could Do That

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #34 on: February 24, 2011, 11:33:51 PM »
I pledged a donation, of a grand, previously, on this site.
If the ball started rolling, in the right direction, I would do much more.
However I have reservations with the Karsten scheme.
Raising £50k, as an incentive to get SBC on side, is all very well, but will they get on side?
SBC have shown no previous concern for the community heritage of Swindon.
I would not Trust SBC to make correct use of my funding, if renovation did not get initiated.
Karsten appears to have a desire to be "elected", on the back of a campaign.
Karsten has dismissed my portrayal of the historic "community value" of the building, so how come he wants to save it?
It's not difficult to figure out, that personal ego has previously got between himself and the trust. What's that all about?
Basic security dictates, if something doesn't make sense, be very cautious.
Has anyone approached SBC, to ask them, if they'll grow some civic pride, and CPO the building, in exchange for our hard earned cash?
Has anyone offered a similar business plan to the trust?
What sort of restoration / usage are we after?
If it resembles the tower plan, my money's going elsewhere.
I'm not interested in propping up someone's personal ego / election campaign, or personal agenda.
I am still prepared to make a substantial donation. I've previously made it very clear, this building means a lot to me, but seriously doubting this proposal.
:angel:
Proud to be gone

Offline 20Eyes

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #35 on: February 24, 2011, 11:35:36 PM »
I pledged a donation, of a grand, previously, on this site.
If the ball started rolling, in the right direction, I would do much more.
However I have reservations with the Karsten scheme.
Raising £50k, as an incentive to get SBC on side, is all very well, but will they get on side?
SBC have shown no previous concern for the community heritage of Swindon.
I would not Trust SBC to make correct use of my funding, if renovation did not get initiated.
Karsten appears to have a desire to be "elected", on the back of a campaign.
Karsten has dismissed my portrayal of the historic "community value" of the building, so how come he wants to save it?
It's not difficult to figure out, that personal ego has previously got between himself and the trust. What's that all about?
Basic security dictates, if something doesn't make sense, be very cautious.
Has anyone approached SBC, to ask them, if they'll grow some civic pride, and CPO the building, in exchange for our hard earned cash?
Has anyone offered a similar business plan to the trust?
What sort of restoration / usage are we after?
If it resembles the tower plan, my money's going elsewhere.
I'm not interested in propping up someone's personal ego / election campaign, or personal agenda.
I am still prepared to make a substantial donation. I've previously made it very clear, this building means a lot to me, but seriously doubting this proposal.
:angel:

So, you've insulted and libelled Karsten... what are you after, a medal?
"Censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime." ~ Potter Stewart

Offline I Could Do That

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #36 on: February 24, 2011, 11:44:22 PM »
I pledged a donation, of a grand, previously, on this site.
If the ball started rolling, in the right direction, I would do much more.
However I have reservations with the Karsten scheme.
Raising £50k, as an incentive to get SBC on side, is all very well, but will they get on side?
SBC have shown no previous concern for the community heritage of Swindon.
I would not Trust SBC to make correct use of my funding, if renovation did not get initiated.
Karsten appears to have a desire to be "elected", on the back of a campaign.
Karsten has dismissed my portrayal of the historic "community value" of the building, so how come he wants to save it?
It's not difficult to figure out, that personal ego has previously got between himself and the trust. What's that all about?
Basic security dictates, if something doesn't make sense, be very cautious.
Has anyone approached SBC, to ask them, if they'll grow some civic pride, and CPO the building, in exchange for our hard earned cash?
Has anyone offered a similar business plan to the trust?
What sort of restoration / usage are we after?
If it resembles the tower plan, my money's going elsewhere.
I'm not interested in propping up someone's personal ego / election campaign, or personal agenda.
I am still prepared to make a substantial donation. I've previously made it very clear, this building means a lot to me, but seriously doubting this proposal.
.
Proud to be gone

Offline Tobes

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #37 on: February 24, 2011, 11:49:15 PM »
He may have insulted Karsten (though Karsten seems a robust enough chap to be well capable of taking that on the chin and arguing back with out bursting into tears - or accusing his potential critics of being part of a clique or having a leftie agenda for that matter).

According to my understanding of civil law, I don't see any libel. All ICDT has done is ask some questions.
 :WTF:
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'

Offline I Could Do That

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #38 on: February 24, 2011, 11:57:30 PM »
Thanks Tobes. I was hoping someone else might realise.
I am asking questions, with a view to parting with funds, in order to save an important piece of history.
I'm not even averse to funding Karsten's scheme, if my concerns are answered and quashed. No insult intended (I'm sure most of us have exercised a personal agenda at some point . Doesn't make it illegal).
It would be nice if, just this once, the resident troll could leave the thread on topic.
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Offline I Could Do That

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Re: Mechanics Institute Antemortem Analysis - Who, What, When & Why
« Reply #39 on: February 25, 2011, 12:33:15 AM »
Where ever we are at present the truth is, if something isn't done resonably soon the building willbe beyond any chance of renovation.
as a talking shop this as been great. If there is a trustee group and we need to form a new group that can do some thng. I know there are funding streams out there that we can tap into. Under the Big Socitey for example or one of the many community start up funds. If there is a genuine desire to do this then we need to support Karsten. Let's get the group up and running, I will as part of the group do my best to find every funding opportunity out there and in necessary do the application on behalf of the group. Two of us aren't enough we need more and those of you with a larger voice withinthe community could mean the difference between failure or success.

Time to put up or shut up. This building deserves better than it has so far been given. Swindon deserves a building that belongs to the whole community and why shouldn't we celebrate our Rail heritage? After all every town/city that has seems to have re-created themselves and created a tourist trade simply on that rebirth.

Now there's a challenge?
Proud to be gone