2:42pm Monday 2nd June 2014
By Dan Clough
THE former Liberal Club in Darwen could be demolished to make way for a children’s nursery.
The club in Falcon Avenue has been vacant since closing in 2011 and now a planning application has been lodged to have it knocked down.
Built in the mid 19th-century as a domestic villa, it was the Darwen Masonic Lodge until being taken over by the Liberals in the 1980s.
The plans, submitted by Karl Baxter from Hampshire Helmn estate agents in Darwen, suggest the nursery would be called ‘Bowling Green Nursery’.
It would be split into two floors and there would be play areas to the front and back of the building.
The building is recognised by Blackburn with Darwen Council as a ‘locally listed heritage asset’, which does not give it the protection of full listing.
A report by Mortimers Chartered Building Surveyors, submitted alongside the plans, said demolition was the only feasible option for the building.
It said: “We believe that it is not viable to try to conserve it for an alternative use. The proposal for demolition is the best solution in our view.”
In a heritage statement, chartered surveyor Chris O’Flaherty said: “The building has been vacant since 2011 with attempts to find a new owner who is willing to re-use it proving fruitless.
“There would appear no justifiable heritage-related grounds to prevent redevelopment of the site.”
Earcroft councillor Stephanie Brookfield said she was pleased a new use for the site could be on its way.
She said: “The Liberal Club is an iconic old building has fallen into disrepair and been vandalised.
“As ward councillor I am really delighted with this proposal and I support it fully.”
Liberal Democrat leader for Darwen, Coun David Foster, said the club had lost its connection to the political party and was a Liberal club ‘in name only’ for the past few decades.
He said: “I do feel sad, though, because my grandfather was the president of the Lancashire Association of Liberal Clubs in the 1930s, back when we had about four of them in Darwen.”
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