Air raid shelters at former Lancaster school 'need research' as part of demolition plans

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World War Two air raid shelters in the grounds of a former Lancaster school are to be examined before demolition work is carried out on the site.

While one shelter has been logged already, archaeologists have said there could be two shelters at the site, and will investigate further. If so, it will be recorded and another planning application could be needed for further work to take place.

Skerton High School closed in 2014 and only two buildings linked with it remain in use by the current Chadwick High School.

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Remaining buildings and playing fields have been vacant since the old school closed. The city council bought the building earlier this year, and demolition of some parts could start in January 2024, as part of regeneration hopes for the area.

Skerton High School.Skerton High School.
Skerton High School.

The wider site is the focus of redevelopment plans by Lancaster City Council for the Mainway estate.

The old school’s history was discussed at the latest meeting of Lancaster City Council’s planning committee, where approval was given for the demolition of some old buildings at the site.

Some old elements, such as gates and stonework, could be kept and used in new schemes, councillors were told.

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The air raid shelter, or shelters, could be filled in, once their details have been recorded for archives.

Lancaster Civic Vision has called for the main old school building’s facade to be kept and used in new developments. It dates from the 1930s and is in the art deco style.

Prior permission for demolition for some parts had been refused at a previous city council planning meeting because councillors wanted more information about proposals for trees and an air raid bunker.

The council has now committed to retaining the cherry trees which line the entrance way and the playing fields at the front of the site.

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Lancaster planning officers said they had confidence that the potential existence of a second air raid shelter is being taken seriously.

The proposed development aims to construct around 135 new council homes on the school site.

A full planning application is expected to be submitted early in 2024.