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Bid to save part of old building

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: January 17, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

Standing in front of the facade at the Carr Gymnasium building are Staffordshire Moorlands MP Karen Bradley, Mike Stapleton, Roger Warrillow and John Russell.

Standing in front of the facade at the Carr Gymnasium building are Staffordshire Moorlands MP Karen Bradley, Mike Stapleton, Roger Warrillow and John Russell.

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AN APPEAL has been made for Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, to help save an historic part of a town building.

In September Staffordshire Moorlands District Council's planning applications committee gave approval to Leek College to redevelop its site.

Permission included the demolition of the Carr Gymnasium building, which has a historical ceiling and facade.

However, councillors supported officers' recommendations that no demolition of the building took place until a scheme had been submitted to remove the plaster ceiling located in the Sugden building, along with the storage and relocation of it for public display.

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However, no conditions were put on the facade of the Carr Gymnasium building.

Last week members of Leek Civic Society met with Staffordshire Moorlands MP Karen Bradley, to raise their concerns.

Vice-chairman of the society, John Russell, said: "The town should not lose its historical features and every effort should be made to maintain the facade. Architects should be able to incorporate it into the new development."

Honorary secretary Mike Stapleton said: "The ceiling has been given protection, but we also support keeping the facade in some way."

Civic society member Roger Warrillow added: "As a member of the civic society I would like to see the facade retained in its position within the new development. It is our historical building for which the stones were laid by the Duke of York on July 28, 1900.

"We have written to the communities minister, Eric Pickles, requesting that the small front portion of the Carr Gymnasium is retained in situ, as it is an historic feature of Leek's heritage and was designed by Victorian architect William Sugden."

Mrs Bradley said: "The need for new facilities is clear and they will help students get the best education possible, but I hope the plans also recognise the existing buildings' historical significance. The William Carr Gymnasium is a relatively small part of the current building and, though some of us might not have paid it much attention when visiting the Nicholson Institute or the colleg e in the past, it's clear that it is a historical feature that it would be a great shame to lose.

"It would be sad to lose this part of Leek's heritage and I really hope the architects can find a way to save at least the facade while helping the college to develop for students of the future."

The site plans are on display in the Leek Campus reception.

In a statement to the Post & Times the principal of Buxton & Leek College, Len Tildsley, said: “The plans for the re-development of the college’s Leek Campus have been available for some time, including a 3D architect’s model of how the fully-completed site will look.

“It would be clear to those reviewing the plans that the retention of any part of the Carr Gymnasium building in its current location would severely limit the utility and aesthetics of the re-development and would continue to obscure views of the beautiful grade 2* listed college building to which the gym is a curtilage.

“Both the planning permission and the specific listed building consent documents set out conditions that will ensure the preservation of the ‘plaster ceiling’ that is currently stored behind a protective cover in the Carr Gymnasium and the ‘retention on site of the Carr Gymnasium commemorative plaque and entrance porch feature’.

“Indeed, proposals for the incorporation of this porch into the new main pedestrian entrance to the campus have already been submitted to the Local Planning Authority as required in the consent documents.

“In addition, we have now received quotations for accredited conservators to prepare a method statement for the safe relocation of the plaster ceiling and an appointment will be made imminently to allow the information to be submitted to the local authority for conditional discharge.

“The college is in discussion with the local authority to determine to where the ceiling will be relocated. A full historic building recording and analysis has been undertaken to ensure that the heritage is protected.”

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