New plans go in for Harris Orphanage site in Preston a year after city council booted out a previous scheme

Fresh plans have gone in to develop the Harris Orphanage site in Preston for housing, exactly a year after a previous idea was knocked back by councillors.

Tuesday, 14th December 2021, 9:34 am

Architects for the site's owner, wealthy businessman Yousuf Bhailok, have further reduced the number of new homes to be built on the land in a bid to finally get Town Hall approval.

And the plans also include moving the orphanage's war memorial to a new spot next to Garstang Road so the public can have better access.

The controversial scheme has faced an avalanche of criticism since it was first suggested now homes could be built in the grounds of the Victorian complex which includes 12 Grade II Listed buildings.

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The former chapel, school and masters' house could become three townhouses.

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An original scheme to construct a 58-home estate on a former cricket pitch at the rear of the site - where England star Andrew Flintoff learned to play the game - was cut back to 23 after objections.

Then last December an application for more than 30 homes on the entire site were rejected by Preston' s planning committee because it was considered to be an "unacceptable suburban development."

Eden Grove Investment Properties, a company owned by the Bhailok family, now wants to construct just 16 executive homes on the former cricket field and three more on the front of the site where the 133-year-old orphanage buildings are situated.

The 101-year-old war memorial will be moved to a spot by the side of Garstang Road.

The company has also asked for permission to carry out urgent repairs and refurbishments to many of the historic buildings to correct the deterioration caused by lying empty for years.

The plans include turning the main orphanage building, which housed the chapel, school and masters' house, and later became a conference centre - into three town houses.

A planning report to be considered by the council says the feedback given when the previous scheme was knocked back had been "taken onboard when developing the current design proposal."

It said it was looking "to address the concerns raised in order to sensitively develop the site for residential use."

The scheme would involve refurbishing 12 Grade Listed buildings.

And it added that in discussions with the planning officers prior to submitting the application, "the council recognised that the proposals represent an improvement when compared with the previous application."

The new plans come just three weeks after campaigners battling to save the orphanage complex as an important heritage site called on the city council to consider buying the Victorian landmark from the Bhailok family in order to preserve it for Preston.

They urged Town Hall chiefs to include it in its bid for government cash from the Levelling Up Fund.