New apartments plan for part of Preston's former Convent School

Part of Preston's former Winckley Square Convent School is the latest obsolete office building about to be swallowed up by the 'city living' culture.

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 12:45 pm

Plans for 29 apartments in Lancashire House have been lodged with the council to replace a similar project from 2008 which never went ahead due to the global financial crash.

Developers have applied for a change of use from office accommodation to residential, although the former Heathcote's Olive Press and Brasserie restaurants, which occupied the ground floor and basement, are privately owned and not included in the scheme.

The building, which stands on the corner of Winckley Square and Garden Street, closed as a girls' school in 1978 after 103 years. Its sixth form merged with neighbouring Preston Catholic College for boys to become what is now Cardinal Newman College.

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Lancashire House in Winckley Square.

Lancashire House has been home to a number of businesses in recent years, but was put up for auction in 2016, selling for £785,000. It is now estimated to be worth in the region of £3.5m.

Eastside Property Ltd from London wants to convert it into 22 one-bed flats, six two-bed and one three-bed. The building would also have a small roof terrace overlooking Winckley Square.

The flats plan is the latest scheme for the building which has been earmarked for residential since 2008. That year a project to turn it into 35 apartments was passed, but never came to fruition because of the perilous economic climate.

At the time the scheme caused controversy with local residents saying the Winckley Square area was "totally saturated" with flats. A survey showed there were around 500 city centre apartments up for sale and plans for hundreds more were in ice.

Plans are for 29 apartments in the old school building.

Now city centre living is going through a boom time and a number of former office blocks around the square have been snapped up for residential development.

The Convent School opened in 1875 at No 23 Winckley Square, the former home of the Recorder of Preston Thomas Batty Addison. The school grew to fill the whole block from Garden Street to East Cliff and, at its peak in 1962, it taught 850 pupils.

How the Convent School looked around a century ago.