A MANSION in Wallasey is to open its doors again after a long-running battle over its use.
Wirral Metropolitan College is looking to move into the Georgian Liscard Hall in the town's Central Park.
The Grade II-listed hall, an arts and education centre owned by Wirral Council, became vacant in summer 2003 following the collapse of the charity Serve Wirral Trust.
Parents and teachers of the former Marymount Convent School, an independent primary school, had wanted to set up a new school using the building.
But even after overcoming the objections of Wirral councillors, they decided not to move in.
They had been looking for community-wide support but pulled out in the face of accusations of elitism.
Now the grand old building, one of the finest in Wirral, could be put to community use again and fully refurbished.
Liscard Hall is owned by Wirral Council and Wirral Met College representatives have met with the Central Park Steering Group and other community groups to discuss their views on the use of the building.
Wirral Met College spokeswoman Sue Higginson said: "The board of directors has given us the go-ahead to carry out a feasibility study which will be based on the hall's accessibility, suitability and demands of the community and the numbers wanting to use it. We have kept in touch with the community throughout." The college, which is the largest provider of post-16 learning in Wirral, is looking to enhance its Wallasey provision after £14m of improvements at their three other campuses.
Carlett Park in Eastham and Conway Park in Birkenhead town centre have been reshaped and refurbished, while a new building at Twelve Quays has just been opened as part of the college's accommodation strategy.
Cllr Phil Davies, cabinet member for education and lifelong learning, said: "The college will take the lease from us and run their further education courses there while community organisations would be able to use the hall again too and I wholly support this." The college recently held an open day which attracted 1,400 visitors to view facilities and teaching methods.
Cllr Dave Hawkins said: "The college is to be the main player in the rejuvenation of Liscard Hall and will work with the community groups to ensure that the hall is used by the whole community of Liscard and Wallasey.
"Wirral Met College moving back to Wallasey is great news for all of us who have campaigned for a presence since the closure of the Withens Lane campus.
"It is just reward for the community groups and Labour councillors that opposed the Tory's giving the hall away to a private school for the few."
Tory councillor Leah Fraser, who campaigned for the Marymount School parents last year, said she was pleased that the building would no longer be left to rot and drain council coffers.
"I have met with college staff several times and believe that local people would support Wirral Met College in returning to Wallasey," she said
"I am pleased that Liscard Hall will be brought back into use as an educational facility. The building has cost tax payers £8,000 to deter vandals and it must not be allowed to stand empty any longer."