South Ribble squash club serves up grand plans to become a family home

An historic Grade II Listed school which became a squash club in the 1970s looks set for a new life as a family home.

By Brian Ellis
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 10:08 am

Owners of the Old School House in Walton-le-Dale have had a planning application approved to turn the 188-year old building into a grand three-bedroom dwelling.

The scheme will involve demolishing one of the two courts used by the old South Ribble Squash Club and converting the other into a bedroom and snug.

Plans for the venue, which was previously called the Marda Squash Club and also Scholars Health Club during its 15 years in business and sits in the Church Brow Conservation Area, will also include office accommodation.

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The Old School House will be partially demolished.

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Built around 1835 next to St Leonard's Church in Church Brow, the impressive property was originally a National school catering for children of the poor. It later became parish rooms for the church.

In the mid-1970s plans were passed to turn it into a squash club with a viewing area and a bar lounge.

In 1977 a second court was added as an extension to the side of the property. The planning approval gives the owners permission to knock down that add-on building and restore the exterior to how it was originally.

The add-on squash court to be knocked down.

The scheme will also include a separate car park and entrance to the one the building shares with the neighbouring church.

A report to South Ribble's planning committee said the development would not "detrimentally alter the character of the historic building which is falling into disrepair and neglect."

It goes on: "The proposal seeks permission for the removal of the later additions to the listed building. The add-ons have no architectural merit and add no heritage value to the significance of the listed building.

"The proposal will ensure the preservation of the building's future and enhance the character of the conservation area in this prominent location.

The former school sits next to St Leonard's Church.

"The proposal will make a positive contribution to the local character and distinctiveness of the area. It will bring a neglected unit within the main building back to its beneficial re-use and therefore will not damage the conservation of the historic building."

The squash club was once owned by businessmen Tony Gornall and Richard Leigh whose company used to own the Manxman steamer which became a floating nightclub in Preston Docks.