Fresh plans for site of Preston's former synagogue and Hindu temple

Preston's last tangible connection with its once-thriving Jewish community is to be replaced by even more homes than originally planned.

By Brian Ellis
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 9:47 am

The site of the former synagogue in Avenham Place, which also became a first centre of worship for local Hindus, will now make way for 14 new dwellings after amended plans were approved by council officers.

Owners of the land already had planning permission to build nine four and five bedroom dwellings on the secluded site in the middle of the Avenham Conservation Area.

But now, with the building cleared, a second application has been lodged to convert four of those proposed homes into a total of four houses and five apartments, with the other five houses remaining as planned.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The site of the former synagogue in Avenham Place

Read More

Read More
"We want to get on with our lives and protect others": Teenage Preston students ...

The former synagogue, which had stood empty since 2008, was flattened because it was said to be in a "very unsafe" condition due to vandalism and the ravages of the Lancashire weather.

The building had also been under sentence of demolition since councillors first gave approval almost 15 years ago. But despite three applications to knock it down the former 10-bedroom schoolmaster's house remained standing until work began on the new homes project last summer.

Now there is nothing left to suggest it was ever there, other than a boundary wall which will be retained to separate the new development and its parking courtyard from the surrounding homes in the Conservation Area.

The synagogue has now gone and the site is ready for redevelopment.

The large Victorian building was originally home to the headmaster of a local school. It became Preston' s first synagogue when the town's expanding Jewish community took it over in 1932.

Prior to that the group had met for worship in each other's houses and later the town's old Temperance Hall.

But during the1930s and 1940s Preston's Jewish population grew from around 100 to more than 300 due to a large influx of refugees from continental Europe.

After the war numbers began to decline, with many Jewish families moving to Manchester, the Fylde Coast, Southport, or further afield.

The site has become a dumping ground for fly-tippers.

The synagogue closed in 1982 in its golden jubilee year and, two years later, it became the first Preston temple of the the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Hindu group who paid just £35,000 to buy it. They moved out in 2008 and the building has been empty ever since.

The decision to demolish the property was taken after experts carried out a structural survey and found it was in such a poor state it could not be saved.

The report said it was badly neglected and vandalised and was deemed "very unsafe."

"Demolition of this property is seen as the only way forward,” said the survey report.

The new housing project will see five of the originally planned houses built, with two of the other four converted into two three-bed homes each and the remaining two changed to a total of nine apartments.

Want to see fewer ads? Subscribers to the Lancashire Post get access to the ad-lite version of our website, which features 70% fewer ads and faster load times for a better experience. Find out more