New bid to turn Falcon House in Swindon into 66 flats

A FRESH attempt has been made to bring one of the town centre’s most recognisable eyesores back to life.

Falcon House – the derelict six-storey office block above the former Debenhams building – could be turned into 66 flats.

The offices overlooking Fleming Way have been empty for more than a decade and have become a target of by vandals and graffiti artists.

But developer Carl Dawson, who gives his address at Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands, has asked Swindon Borough Council for prior approval for his proposal to turn Falcon House into apartments.

As Mr Dawson is applying for prior consent and not a full planning permission his application is not as detailed as it would have to be otherwise.

It shows, if approved, the six upper storeys of the building would have 11 flats – 36 one-bed apartments, 24 with two beds and six studio flats.

There would be parking for 61 cars plus cycle storage on the undercroft third level.

Mr Dawson’s application says: “The upper six floors were last in use as offices approximately 15 years ago and there have been no other uses since then.

It includes a transport analysis, which says: “The proposals will generate a reduction of 106 car journeys in the morning peak and 83 in the afternoon peak.”

Mr Dawson might be encouraged by the fact that prior consent was given for the conversion of the building into flats just three years ago.

The local authority’s former regeneration body Forward Swindon was given the consent by the council in 2018. The council the building’s owner at the time, Standard Life Investments, wanted to turn the six storeys into 90 one-bedroom flats.

No progress has been made and since then and Debenhams closed its doors for good in the spring of 2020.

The 1960s block was sold to Meadow Residential in 2019.

If it can be revitalised that could be a boost to the council’s plans to use the regeneration of Fleming Way to improve the town centre.

Finance company Zurich is building a new tower block on the Kimmerfields site just across Fleming Way and the council is planning to turn the street into a ‘bus boulevard’. Private traffic would be banned and pedestrian access to the rest of the town made easier by getting rid of the underpass.

The council’s cultural quarter plans of a new expanded Wyvern Theatre and art galleries is also earmarked for the area.

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