Police investigate suspicious fire at former Leyland convent

A fire at a former convent in Leyland is being investigated by police after fire crews said the cause appeared ‘suspicious’.

By Matthew Calderbank
Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 12:16 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 12:51 pm

Two fire engines from Bamber Bridge were called to the derelict Oaklands convent in Moss Lane after smoke was seen rising from the building at 7.30pm on Monday (March 7).

Firefighters rushed to the scene and quickly tackled the fire using a hose reel before reporting their concerns to police.

“A joint investigation is under way with the fire service,” said a Lancashire Police spokesman, adding, “No arrests have been made at this stage.”

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The former Oaklands Convent in Moss Lane, Leyland has been a target for anti-social behaviour and is now deemed beyond salvage, with plans put forward to demolish the building to make way for a 66-bed care home on the site

The detached Edwardian building, situated next to the M6, has been a target for anti-social behaviour since its last nuns moved out in 2016 - nearly 70 years after the Sisters of Our Lady made it their home.

Its neglect has also attracted trespassers who regularly climb over its gates to explore the building and police believe this might explain the cause of Monday’s suspicious fire.

Developers have submitted plans to demolish the former convent to make way for a 66-bed care home. Permission was granted in 2017 to extend the existing building to create a 46-bedroomed facility, but the convent has been left to deteriorate to such a level that its conversion was no longer viable and demolition was the only way forward.

South Ribble Borough Council’s planning officers recommended approval of the plans, but work has yet to commence.

Around 135 nuns lived in the Oaklands convent over the years before the last two nuns moved out in February 2016. It has become derelict and has attracted trespassers and anti-social behaviour, with fire crews called to the site to tackle a suspicious fire on Monday (March 7)

David Morse, the agent for applicant Corsa Construction, said that the proposed home was much-needed given that the borough had one of the highest proportions of older residents in the region.

“We are pleased to report that the applicants are in advanced discussions with a regional care provider who is looking to operate the site as a residential dementia home,” said Mr Morse.

The care home proposal, which was unanimously approved by the committee, is expected to lead to the creation of 55 full and part-time jobs.

Anyone with information on Monday’s fire should contact police on 101, quoting log number LC-20220307-1239.

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