THE future of a Victorian primary school building in Chester hangs in the balance as the trustees who can decide its fate remain at large.
A national society has appealed to the county council not to raze it to the ground but building work has begun on a new primary school for Saughall in its grounds.
When it is finished, the existing Thomas Wedge Church of England Junior School is expected to be demolished.
The Victorian Society, which campaigns for the preservation of Victorian buildings, has urged Cheshire County Council to save what they say is an “attractive and well built structure at the heart of the village”.
Alex Baldwin, the society’s conservation advisor, said the school, built in 1852 by agriculturalist Thomas Wedge, “is of intrinsic architectural and historic interest and should not be demolished to create more parking spaces”.
He added: “We’re not opposed to the new school but feel that the decision to destroy the original building is incredibly wasteful. Council officials need to come up with a more sustainable solution.”
The society wants the council to consider options for the reuse of the building including accommodation for the pre-school, offering it for community use or selling it on the open market and see it converted into a shop, an office or even a house.
Meanwhile, Cheshire County Council insist the land is not owned by them but by two separate deeds looked after by Church trustees which stress the land must be used for a Church of England day school – if not, it must be sold on the open market at cost price with the proceeds going to the original landowners’ descendants.
The Victorian parts of the building are held in trust by Chester Diocese but its director of education, Jeff Turnbull, says the Diocese has not found the trustees who will have the final say.
He said: “Once we know who the trustees are, we’ll have to talk to them and decide what’s going to happen to the building and make a common decision to demolish or keep it.
“In theory what we could do is demolish our part and continue to use the land for the purpose of a church school.
“The council accepts the fact that if the building remains, they’ll have to make adjustments and have less land available.”