South Swindon Parish Council has triggered a six-month moratorium on the sale of Apsley House Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.
The Old Town building, which once housed a veritable selection of ancient and rare artifacts and objects, sat empty and closed for several months after it was deemed too expensive to maintain.
It was then announced in June that the building, owned by Swindon Borough Council, would be put up for sale.
But South Swindon Parish Council expressed a formal interest in buying the building from its borough council counterparts on July 27, starting a six-month moratorium from the date of notification.
A Grade II listed building, Aspley House was built between 1830 and 1840, initially used as a residence before becoming a museum and art gallery.
The building is listed as Community Value Property so the local authority must legally offer it to groups around the town, who have six weeks to trigger a moratorium, which South Swindon Parish Council has done .
The city council now has six months to submit a bid for the property.
Chris Watts, President of South Swindon Parish Council, said: ‘I was delighted to have brought the motion to the full parish council meeting and also delighted to have received the unanimous support of all gone.
“The moratorium will give the parish council time and space to study the structure, investigate the potential for the facility and produce a feasibility study and business proposal.”
Neil Hopkins, Chairman of Recreation and Facilities for the parish, added: “In the five years of the parish’s existence, we have been committed, not only to protecting and renovating heritage assets, but to ensuring that that these assets are returned to service. .
“In triggering the moratorium, we would seek to apply the same values and principles to Apsley House and we will work hard to achieve this goal if it is indeed possible for the parish to take over this property.”
This news was warmly welcomed by campaign group Save Our Museum and Gallery
A spokesperson said: “We fully support South Swindon Parish Council in their bid to bring Apsley House back for community use. This listed building, owned by the people of Swindon, has been closed to the public for almost two and one and a half years.
“If it is sold to a private owner, there will be no guarantee as to its future.”