Anger at homes plan for historic school site

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Neighbours have voiced their anger over a decision to build four homes at the site of a 170-year-old former school in Leyland’s only conservation area.

The controversial development has been given the go-ahead despite a five-year fight by residents to stop it happening.

The last remains of the Worden Old School site on Fox Lane will be incorporated into a new development of houses.

Objectors packed into a planning committee meeting where they gave an impassioned plea for the fourth application for the site to be thrown out. But South Ribble Council councillors agreed it could go ahead.

Those speaking against the scheme included Nathan Cowley, a year 7 pupil at Balshaw’s High School, who said: “You wouldn’t allow houses to be built on Hadrian’s Wall, so why should they be built on this one?”

Applicants, the Trustees of the Worden Estate, plan to build four homes, plus a car parking area for six cars, at the rear of the site.

Twenty-one letters of objection were received, with residents raising concerns including traffic and parking problems, which they said the development would cause, and a loss of a vital piece of conservation history.

The original building was finished in 1842, and used as a parish hall, as well as the location of early council meetings until 1870, when it became a school.

The wall is all that remains of the building, which fell into decay and was partially demolished by an unknown party in the 1960s.

Tony Gilgun, who lives on Fox Lane, said: “As far as I’m concerned, that wall will stand for as long as our houses will. Saying it is going to fall down if something isn’t done just isn’t right.

“We’re in a conservation area, which means these things should be conserved.”

Three previous applications to transform the wall have been thrown out, including one by the Planning Inspectorate on appeal.

Bonnie Bullard, who also lives on Fox Lane, said the plans would mean a traffic nightmare.

She said: “Somebody is going to get hurt, and they just didn’t think. This plan is wrong. It will not only mean a loss of parking spaces, but also that people going up and down will be at risk.”

Coun Fred Heyworth, who represents Lowerhouse ward, said: “ I think it’s unique that in Leyland we have the remains of a building going back to 1842.

“They are all disappearing, and it’s very important that we retain it.”

Voting in favour of the scheme, Coun Graeme Walton, who sits on the council’s planning committee, said: “The wall is patched up in common brick everywhere you look.

“The proposal would incorporate forever more the facade we have here. Nobody seems to be bothering about this wall, either in repair or maintenance.”

Agent Richard Bramley said: “The history of this wall is a bit of a moveable feast. The wall that is left is deteriorating. It will not be there forever.

“We are not going to take the wall down. Even though the wall is not in great condition, it can be repaired, and it will be repaired. I think it’s a nice little scheme in a nice little place.”