Shock as heritage group objects to new Nelson infant school

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There has been widespread condemnation following the news that Save Britain’s Heritage is seeking a judicial review to stop the building of the replacement Whitefield Infant School in Every Street, Nelson.

The plans to build the new £3.5m. school have been subject to a number of delays, and it was thought initial objections by English Heritage and Heritage Trust North West to the number of derelict properties that would be demolished on the new school site had been overcome.

The new plans were unanimously approved by Lancashire County Council in July and also have the full backing of Pendle Council.

However, this week Save Britain’s Heritage informed Lancashire County Council it is applying for a judicial review to quash the grant of planning permission and stop the redevelopment of the site.

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson, who is a governor at Whitefield Infant School, said: “I am deeply saddened by this last-minute attempt to block the school which will cause alarm among teachers and parents.

“The proposals drawn up by Lancashire County Council have the support of Pendle Council, school governors, parents and even heritage organisations.

“The designers have gone out of their way to protect local heritage and the new school will be a catalyst for speeding up the regeneration of neighbouring streets.

“For this London-based group to call for a judicial review at this late stage is ridiculous. They should visit the old school building and see the cramped conditions the children are having to work in before meddling in this matter.”

Mayor of Pendle and Whitefield ward councillor Coun. Nadeem Ahmed said: “It is obviously sad news for Whitefield. We have been looking forward to the new school for a long time and it has the support of councillors, residents and the school itself.

“Save Britain’s Heritage has had ample opportunity to object to the plans and should have made its views known earlier so things could have been resolved. They are putting the education of our children at risk.”

Chairman of the Whitefield Community Forum Mr Irfan Ahmed said: “If SAVE do go ahead and try to block the school it will be a massive blow to the young people of Whitefield who desperately need a new school. On behalf of the hundreds of Whitefield youngsters I call on them not to push forward with their plans”

SAVE secretary William Palin said: “SAVE objects in the strongest terms to this application which seeks the demolition of 39 Victorian terraced houses and several other properties in Whitefield Conservation Area.

“SAVE believes these demolitions are contrary to national planning policy and contrary to the conclusions of two public inquiries involving the Whitefield terraces in 2002 and 2003.

“The houses form part of a remarkable group of stone built 19th-Century terraced houses which distinguish Nelson as a town of great interest and architectural quality.

“The inquiries were related to proposals to clear 389 dwellings and at least 31 other properties for redevelopment in Whitefield. The Secretary of State did not confirm the compulsory purchase orders, agreeing the heritage and best interests of Whitefield area would be best served by a conservation-led approach.

“Now, both the conclusions of these inquiries and the special protection subsequently conferred on the area are being swept aside in an attempt to push through a scheme for which is unsuitable for this site.

“SAVE is aware alternative sites for the school have been proposed and it does not appear to us these have been adequately appraised or satisfactorily discounted. Developing most of these sites would not involve the compulsory purchase or demolition of existing housing.

“SAVE does not believe it is possible for the applicant to justify the demolitions against any of these points. The scheme is not necessary as there are other suitable sites available, and the buildings to be demolished can clearly be renovated and brought back to life as has been demonstrated elsewhere in Nelson.”