College Developer blames bats and democracy for delays

This was extracted from the ‘Swindon Star’, Back Garden has invited Ashfield to put their case.

“… But although Council leader Bluh made it clear to Andrew Fisher, managing director of Bristol-based developer Ashfield Land which controls the site, that the building must go as soon as possible, he said he was left frustrated that no date whatsoever could be given.

And the developer has now said Swindon residents and a bat colony are partly responsible the length of time it is taking to rip down the building.”

“But at this stage they can’t give me a date when demolition is likely. I pressed and pressed and pressed”, said Coun Bluh, “They didn’t even give me a possible date. To a certain extent, unless they could tell me anything meaningful, I didn’t want it. I made it absolutely clear in no uncertain terms how important this is to Swindon.”

“I am frustrated. But to be honest I almost probably expected the answer. If there was a date to be given, he would have given it to me; wouldn’t he? Nobody likes their town blighted by a building that looks like that one does.”

Once complete, the scheme is expected to include a 60,000sq ft Morrisons supermarket; a nine­ screen, 950-seat cinema and eight restaurants. Mr Fisher said that legal permission to develop the land only came through on July 2, and that they now have to start removing the asbestos, planning the demolition, and even collect­ ing and re-homing the bats on site.

“A date will be revealed soon, but we have a lot of work to do to get to that date,” he said. “Everyone thinks you can just go and demolish a building. Because of the burden of legislation we’ve been given in the last 10 years, we’ve got to satisfy eco­logical issues, health and safety issues.

“We’ve got to deal with our bats. We’ve got to resurvey and check how many roosts we’ve got and re-house them on site, which is rather tricky because we’re going to demolish it.”

He said they are likely to be housed in the technology college building, which is not being demolished.

And he also turned the fire back on the public for how long the delay has taken.

He said: “You’ve got to bear in mind, and residents need to bear in mind, the reason the building is still there partly is because of them, or some of them. This is the wonderful democracy we live in.”

“They were objecting to various elements and those objections had to be addressed.”

2 responses to “College Developer blames bats and democracy for delays

  1. Pingback: Developer’s latest statement on the College site | Swindon Back Garden

  2. ‘These objections had to be addressed’. No they didn’t – Mr Fisher was very open and honest in his arrogant and complete dismissal of local residents concerns. Their opinions mattered not one jot. Neither will Mr Bluh’s concerns matter to him either. Fisher cares only about profit, pure and simple – and whilst more pennies can be made by waiting to demolish the college at a time suitable to him, you can rest assured he’ll wait.

    Unfortunately, this is what happens when local politicians do deals with unscrupulous businessmen. From WiFi and onwards, they have shown a remarkable lack of savvy in my opinion.

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