Lancashire

Heritage campaigners criticise Preston orphanage plan

St Joseph's Orphanage, Preston Image copyright Victorian Society
Image caption The Victorian Society said losing the orphanage would be a "tragedy"

Plans to convert a Grade II listed orphanage into housing have been criticised by heritage campaigners.

Czero Developments (CD) plans to turn the former St Joseph's Orphanage in Preston into apartments and townhouses.

The Victorian Society said the complex was "irreplaceable" and the gothic buildings "provide an extremely important contribution" to the city.

CD's Simon Linford said the company had "received a lot of support" for the plans from "many people in Preston".

The orphanage was built in 1872 and the adjacent Institute of the Sick Poor opened five years later.

It was later used as a hospital, which closed in 1982, and then housed a care home until 2007.

Image copyright Andy Marshall
Image caption Mr Linford said he was "generally supportive" of the aims of the Victorian Society

The proposals would see the demolition of five buildings at the Theatre Street site, including the main orphanage and the institute, with only the complex's chapel and tower being retained.

The site was placed on the Victorian Society's top 10 list of endangered buildings in 2016.

A spokesman for the group said the orphanage was an "irreplaceable structure" and the gothic buildings "provide an extremely important contribution to the special character of Preston".

"The exterior shells of the buildings are fit for repurpose, as it is largely only the interior that has rotted away, and the society urges the developers to rethink their plans [and retain] the historic structures," he said.

Image copyright Czero Developments
Image caption A date to decide on the plans has not yet been set by the city's council

Mr Linford said he was "generally supportive" of the aims of the Victorian Society, but that his firm differs from the group "in the action we can take".

He said the company had "talked to many people in Preston" and when the plans had been explained, "we have received a lot of support".

A date to decide on the plans has not yet been set by the city's council.

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