Plans for former Lancaster high school to be turned into housing take step forward

Proposals for the disused Skerton High School to be turned into housing as part of a major regeneration scheme have been approved by city councillors.

Friday, 10th December 2021, 10:28 am
The former Skerton High School.

Members of the council cabinet this week authorised purchase of the Owen Road site from Lancashire County Council to extend the Mainway housing regeneration scheme.

Earlier this year, councillors had voted to progress ambitious proposals for what would be the largest housing and capital project ever undertaken by the council, with 'once in a generation proposals' to improve social housing on Mainway.

It was acknowledged that not doing so would mean that many of the homes on Mainway would not be habitable in three to five years’ time, and that the estate as a whole required wholescale intervention.

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The work, which has involved stakeholders and residents, is being concluded and a detailed options report will be presented to cabinet in February 2022.

As part of that work, the redundant element of the former Skerton High School was identified as a key opportunity to enhance the regeneration impact of Skerton East Ward.

Chadwick High School, an alternative provision school supporting pupils who struggle to engage with mainstream education, would remain on the site.

Council officers say 70 per cent of tenants are now in favour of change.

Mainway consists of 238 housing units in 18 blocks, including Lancaster's only high-rise council housing, built 60 years ago.

The latest report says the ex-school site would lead to more homes, a greater mix for young and old, single residents and families.

An in-principle agreement was approved on Tuesday evening, and city council officers can now move forward to agree terms with the county council.

"This creates a real opportunity to reverse the cycle of decline and make Skerton East a place to live with one of aspiration," the report by council officers said.

It is believed that by leaving the site as a redundant site, should Lancashire County Council not do anything with it, this would impact on the ambitious investment being proposed for Mainway.

Acquisition of the site is subject to an application and subsequent approval by the Secretary of State.

That application can be made by Lancashire County Council as soon as they have fulfilled certain criteria including consultation exercises, including engagement with local schools to ensure there is no unfulfilled educational need from the Skerton site.

This could take up to 18 months.