Former council HQ in Devizes could be bulldozed

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Browfort in Devizes Browfort in Devizes

The former Kennet District Council headquarters at Browfort in Bath Road, Devizes, are likely to be bulldozed to make way for homes, according to options discussed by Wiltshire Council’s cabinet on Tuesday.

Old Browfort, the former home of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, is also likely to be demolished as the council tries to maximise the value of the seven-acre site.

Coun Nigel Carter told Devizes town council last night that the site had limitations for developments because of protected trees. He added: “There is only one listed building on the site and that is at the entrance near Bath Road.”

This is The Cedars, a grade II listed Georgian building with a large garden. Old Browfort, where Sir Ernest and his family lived between his two Antarctic expeditions, is not listed.

Cabinet member Toby Sturgis had put a report before Wiltshire Council’s cabinet earlier that day a list of eight options for the site, from retention of all buildings to the clearing of the site for sale as land for housing development, possibly with a care home as well.

In the report, the eight options are given scores, the highest being for the demolition of all buildings to redevelop low density market housing. The value of the site, once cleared, is put at between £2million and £3million.

An option to swap Browfort for the site on Quakers Walk as a location for a care village for older people has been withdrawn following the success of the Society of Merchant Venturers’ appeal against refusal.

The report considered by cabinet on Tuesday said: “The site value is such that the council is required to ensure a realistic full market return on the property and a less than full value disposal may require the approval of the Secretary of State and an assessment by the council that the building was suitable for the use proposed.”

Cabinet members agreed to consult with the Devizes area board and town council on the committee’s preferred options. In the meantime, Wiltshire Council will market the site for employment use, but officers do not hold out any hopes of this being successful in the current economic climate.

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