Up to 90 jobs could be created if a disused Catholic church makes way for a specialist care home in Preston.
Yorkshire-based Exemplar Healthcare say their latest nursing facility for working age people with complex conditions will be a major employer in the Fishwick area of the city if it is allowed to go ahead.
The company wants to knock down St Teresa’s RC Church, its presbytery and social club and replace them with a 30-bed care home to provide for adults aged from 18 to 65 who need round the clock care for illnesses like multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease and Huntington’s disease.
Exemplar says there is an “ongoing national shortage of residential facilities for younger people with certain conditions.”
It also says there is an urgent need for jobs in that part of Preston and that the majority of staff will be recruited locally.
The care home application is the latest chapter in the demise of the Catholic faith in Preston. The Diocese of Lancaster has closed several churches and merged other parishes in recent years in a downsizing operation to deal with falling congregations.
St Teresa’s and the associated buildings are not listed as community assets and their retention is therefore not considered to be integral to the functioning of the community.
Plans for the proposed new care home on the Church Avenue site have been submittted to the city council by Cairnwell Estates of Rotherham who run Exemplar Healthcare.
St Teresa’s Church was built in the 1930s, although there has been a church in the neighbourhood since at least the mid 1800s.
Two years after it was closed down it was put on the market by the Diocese and sold to Cairnwell.
The company wants to build a three-storey home to provide long-term nursing care for working age adults with complex health conditions. Once operational it is expected it will provide 80 to 90 full-time equivalent jobs.
The application says St Teresa’s is not a listed building, nor is it regarded as “an asset of community importance.”
“The church was identified as being surplus to the needs of the community by the Diocese of Lancaster who, in 2011, found that declining attendances in the Preston area required amalgamation of a number of parishes and closures of churches,” says the planning statement.
“St Teresa’s Church was determined by the diocese to be no longer viable and was closed. Due to the age and nature of the construction, it would not be practical or economically viable to attempt to convert the existing buildings to the proposed use.
“St Teresa’s and the associated buildings are not listed as community assets and their retention is therefore not considered to be integral to the functioning of the community.”
While the “imposing” red brick church and presbytery were built in the 1930s, the social club was added during the 1980s.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Lancaster said: “As the church in question was closed some six years ago the Diocese will not be commenting on this matter.”