Built in 1892, the former school in the Hyde Park area of Leeds has stood empty for nearly ten years, and for most of that time its future has been the subject of heated debate – with successive bids by campaigners to turn it into a “community hub” either failing to source sufficient funds or being turned down by Leeds City Council.
In July last year council leaders gave the campaign group, the Royal Park Community Consortium, “one last chance” to come up with a viable plan for the building’s future, but after three months decided the latest proposals were not “robust” enough.
A last-ditch appeal by campaigners a month ago for a further reprieve appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
A decision published today on the council’s website says demolition work will start on 3rd February and be completed by 25th April.
It says the building is in a poor condition and at risk from “further break-ins, theft, vandalism, anti-social behaviour and arson attack”.
“Demolition of these premises will reduce the Councils on-going maintenance costs, will remove the Councils liability for empty business rates and will reduce the Councils risk in respect of Health and Safety,” it adds.
Once the demolition is done the site will be grassed over “until a deliverable primarily public sector, affordable housing or community use is brought forward”.
There’s an interesting account of the school’s history and the campaign to save the building (up to 2011) here. Worth a read.
Worth checking out too are John Baron’s full accounts of the campaign when he was running the Guardian’s Leeds blog.
In 2009 campaigners temporarily squatted the building – you’ll have seen it across the road if you’ve ever been to the Brudenell Social Club or the Royal Park pub – “reclaiming” it for the community.
It’s a much loved building. What a shame.