Last-ditch bid to save historic building

Date:

02/11/2008

Author:

Julian Thorpe

Source:

Bolton News

Matter:

SAVE - Clarence Street, Bolton

A LAST-ditch legal challenge to save an historic building in Bolton has been launched by a conservation group.

Save Britain’s Heritage (SBH) has secured an injunction against Bolton Council, which is preparing to demolish the former Bolton Community College and replace it with a temporary car park.

Now town hall bosses must order workers to down tools until the matter is resolved in the High Court.

Marcus Binney, founder of SBH, said the plan was one of the worst examples of civic destruction he had seen.

“This is the worst case in a decade of a fine town landmark being needlessly demolished for nothing better than a car park,” he said.

“Bolton cannot afford to lose good, well-built, well-designed, well-maintained civic buildings like this. The council might as well be mounting a Baedeker bombing raid on its own town centre.”

The former college centre in Clarence Street, designed by Victorian architect Jonathan Simpon, played a vital role in the Second World War. It was also home to the first Women’s Institute to be established in an industrial town.

A High Court injunction is a rarely-used last resort to prevent demolition as it carries a risk of high cost to the applicant.

SBH secretary William Palin said because plans for the Clarence Street building were such a bad example of historic destruction, the organisation believed it had a good chance of success.

The council has already started work at the site, removing the windows, flooring and part of the roof, but the shell of the main building is still intact.

A council spokesman said the building was not listed and consent was not required for its demolition.

He added: “The Clarence Street building is not in a good state of repair and the nature of the building makes it difficult to reuse.

“Its location, at a gateway to the town centre, means it is a prime site for a landmark development as part of the regeneration of the town centre area."