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Petition to stop move of Leek historic college building

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: March 13, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

Left to right: Margaret Stapleton, Jan Warrillow and Michael Stapleton, honorary secretary of Leek and District Civic Society.

Left to right: Margaret Stapleton, Jan Warrillow and Michael Stapleton, honorary secretary of Leek and District Civic Society.

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A PETITION signed by 1,000 people has been handed to Staffordshire Moorlands MP Karen Bradley in an effort to prevent the moving of an historical part of a college building.

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

Permission included the demolition of part of the Carr Gymnasium building, which features an historical ceiling and facade designed by famous architect William Sugden.

However, earlier this year members of Leek Civic Society met with Staffordshire Moorlands MP Karen Bradley to raise their concerns over the facade, which they felt should be incorporated into the new scheme at its present location.

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Now the petition has been presented to Mrs Bradley to pass on with a letter to Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, in an 11th hour bid to save the building.

The petition and the letter were presented to Mrs Bradley by Roger Warrillow, who is a member of Leek and District Civic Society, last Friday.

Mr Warrillow said: "This is the first of many one thousand named petitions.

"There will be another next week and hopefully week after.

"People can't wait to sign it, as they are all standing up for our heritage.

"In approximately 1898 William Larner Sugden entered for the chance of designing the Technical Schools next to what is considered by many, to be one of his greatest achievements, the Grade II star Nicholson Institute.

"He won and another great work was to ensue.

"At the same time, it was decided that a gymnasium should be incorporated, not just a gymnasium but also a large assembly room.

"The entrance to the gymnasium Sugden Tower is set at a 45 angle to take the eye on entering the Nicholson Institute.

"The entrance to the Technical School had also to be incorporated, so Larner moved the tower 10 feet so that once again the eye was taken to the 45 degree entrance.

"This ensemble has enhanced and served for the last 113 year.

"Unfortunately at the planning stage, this ensemble was not recognised and not stated by the architects in their historical appraisal of the site."

Leek College principal Len Tildsley confirmed that the facade and historical ceiling of the Carr Gymnasium will be retained in the proposed development, but not at the same location.

He said: "Full planning approval was granted unanimously with no objections from members of the public.

"Some time later, we also received specialist listed building consent to allow us to demolish a modern extension.

"As expected, the approval came with a long list of conditions, which included that a new home had to be found for the 17th century ceiling, which had been stored for decades on the wall of the Carr Gymnasium; a full archaeological building record had to be produced for both the Carr Gymnasium and the virtually derelict mill building, near the back of the campus; and the entrance porch and its commemorative plaque had to be retained on site in an appropriate location.

"The porch and plaque will become a feature of the new pedestrian entrance to the campus and will be on display in a much more suitable location in relation to the other campus buildings, both old and new."

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