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Shock and sadness at plans to demolish parts of Preston listed building

Written by on June 3, 2020

An appeal has been launched to oppose plans to demolish parts of Grade II-listed buildings in Preston and build dozens of houses on the site.

Harris Park in Fulwood, was left to the town’s population for recreational and leisure purposes in the will of its original owner, Edmund Harris, in 1877.

Lancashire County Council took on operating the site, under lease, in 1940 as a children’s home.

It closed in 1982 and was then bought by Preston Polytechnic, the forerunner of the University of Central Lancashire.

The university then sold the site to Yousuf Bhailok in 2006.

The site, on Garstang Road has more than seven hectares of open grassland as well as the buildings, which were originally used as an orphanage.

More recently, it has been used by UCLan as a conference centre.

An application form, submitted by agents Cassidy and Ashton, reads that the “lean to structure on the rear elevation of the Conference Centre, a listed building, to be demolished.”

In total, 69 new homes and nine apartments could be built.

A JustGiving page has been launched by objectors to the planning application, which has now raised 80% of its £1,800 target.

The page aims to raise enough for Leith Planning, a Town and Planning consultancy to “represent the community in lodging an appeal.”

The page says: “Many of us are shocked and saddened at the submission of a planning application for a large residential development during the Covid lockdown.

“The site is of historical value to the people of Preston and is a proud part of its heritage.

“Other concerns include traffic congestion opposite a new multi-storey Healthcare Centre and locally oversubscribed schools.”

Prema Taylor, 61, has lived in the area for around 25 years.

She said: “It should never have been passed into private hands. It was fine when the university ran it but it should have gone to a public consultation before going into private ownership.

“If it is developed into houses it’ll be a gated community.

“The road it’s on is a main road running towards the motorway out of Preston. It’s already clogged up and there is an enormous development across the road of a health centre.

“There will be a huge amount of traffic from there. It will cause traffic problems.

“There is also flourishing flora and fauna and all kinds of critters. It’s a heritage site that will be destroyed completely.”

Many of the buildings on site are set to be refurbished to be turned into homes.

The Design and Access statement reads: “The intention for the site is to redevelop it in its entirety for residential purposes but in so doing, retaining the heritage assets.

“The former recreation ground is vacant and has no current purpose or use.

“Due to the site’s location, within the existing residential area and the lack of constraints on this element of the site, it makes an appropriate location for residential development.

“The use of a number of the existing buildings has ceased and with this they have fallen into varying stages of disrepair.

“Whilst their previous uses are no longer considered viable, as with the recreation ground, their location lends themselves to residential use.

“Through the overall residential development, the expense of their repair and maintenance can be accommodated, thus providing a long-term, viable use for the buildings.”

A date has not yet been decided when this application will be considered by the Planning Committee.