Care vil­lage plan nears for derelict school

Midweek Visiter - - Front Page - BY KATE LALLY kate.lal­lyx@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @Visiter

AFORMER South­port school plagued by ar­son­ists and vandals is set to be trans­formed into a re­tire­ment vil­lage in a multi-mil­lion pound de­vel­op­ment.

Birk­dale School for Hear­ing Im­paired Chil­dren, pre­vi­ously Terra Nova, has been hit by ar­son and van­dal­ism, and has at­tracted squat­ters and trav­ellers, since it closed 15 years ago.

The for­mer school on Lan­caster Road, a stone’s throw from Royal Birk­dale golf course, is also cov­ered in over­grown weeds and rub­bish.

Footage cap­tured by an ur­ban ex­plorer in 2016 showed ex­ten­sive fire dam­age, as well as smashed win­dows, torn down rail­ings and fenc­ing, and pulled-down ceil­ings, with the ma­jor­ity of walls cov­ered in of­fen­sive graf­fiti.

Oc­to­pus Health­care’s pro­posal for the site – which in­cludes a mix of re­fur­bish­ment and new build to house a to­tal of 113 as­sisted liv­ing apart­ments – is ex­pected to get the go-ahead from Sefton Coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee to­mor­row, Wed­nes­day.

The school was last oc­cu­pied in 2003 and has since fallen into an ap­palling con­di­tion, with the prin­ci­pal Grade II build­ing se­verely dam­aged by fire in May 2010.

Ap­prox­i­mately a third of the build­ing, the right-hand side el­e­va­tion fac­ing Lan­caster Road, has been razed, and the re­main­der has been ex­posed to a num­ber of freez­ing win­ters which have con­trib­uted fur­ther to the poor con­di­tion of the build­ing’s in­te­rior.

There have been pre­vi­ous un­suc­cess­ful at­tempts to de­velop the site in the pe­riod since.

Most no­tably, an ap­pli­ca­tion for con­ver­sion of the listed build­ing and the de­vel­op­ment of a large part of the grounds for res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment was dis­missed at ap­peal in 2015. This fol­lowed a pre­vi­ous scheme which also went to ap­peal but was with­drawn in June 2012.

It has led to neigh­bours liv­ing with one of Mersey­side’s big­gest eye­sores for years with no hope of a new fu­ture for the site – until now.

The cur­rent pro­posal seeks to con­vert, ex­tend and re­fur­bish the listed build­ing, with new build de­vel­op­ment within the grounds to fa­cil­i­tate an ex­tra care use, for over-55s with a pro­fes­sion­ally recog­nised health care need. More re­cent ex­ten­sions will be de­mol­ished.

Ar­eas of the build­ing dam­aged by fire in 2010 will be re­built.

The main build­ing has the ca­pac­ity to house 25 as­sisted liv­ing units, while for­mal rooms on the ground floor would be re­stored to house com­mu­nal fa­cil­i­ties.

Listed air raid shel­ters will be re­tained as part of the plans.

In his re­port to coun­cil­lors, Sefton Coun­cil chief plan­ning officer Stu­art Barnes said: “There is ac­cep­tance that the lay­out causes ‘less than sub­stan­tial harm’ to her­itage as­sets, and this harm must be weighed against the pub­lic ben­e­fit derived from bring­ing the listed build­ing back into use.

“His­toric Eng­land fully en­dorse the pro­pos­als.

“Plan­ning per­mis­sion and listed build­ing con­sent should be granted.”

If plans are agreed the de­vel­oper will en­ter a le­gal agree­ment com­mit­ting to restor­ing the listed build­ing on the land at an early stage.

Oc­to­pus Health­care spokesman Andy Bad­de­ley said: “This scheme presents a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity to safe­guard this iconic build­ing for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, yet pro­vides a much­needed re­tire­ment and ex­tra care fa­cil­ity for peo­ple to re­ally en­joy this unique place.”

The scheme would pro­vide as­so­ci­ated fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing a bistro, res­i­dents’ lounge, li­brary and hair and beauty sa­lon as well as pro­vid­ing on-site care.

The site was orig­i­nally opened as Terra Nova, a pri­vate board­ing school, in 1901 be­fore it be­came the School For Hear­ing Im­paired Chil­dren in 1948. The build­ing was given a Grade II list­ing in 1999.

● The shut­down school in 2003; main pic­ture, how the new de­vel­op­ment will ap­pear

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