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A unique group of Victorian buildings under threat in Stockport

Plans to build a four-storey school building in the grounds of a Grade I listed church in Stockport have been strongly criticised by the Victorian Society.

The proposals for the St George's Church site on Buxton Road in Heaviley also include the demolition of an important listed vicarage.

The Diocese of Chester wants to expand its St George's Church of England Primary school and has applied to knock down the derelict Grade II-listed vicarage opposite the site and build a new four-storey school building in its place. The current junior school would then be converted into 12 flats and sold off, while the infant building would be used by the parish and as a nursery.

The schools and vicarage form an important group with the Grade I-listed St George's Church; considered by many to be the finest work of the celebrated Victorian architects, Austin and Paley.

'It is hard to overplay the architectural importance of this group of buildings and the damage that would be done by knocking the vicarage down', said Edmund Harris, Conservation Adviser for the Victorian Society.  'The once attractive brick and terracotta vicarage has been targeted by vandals and thieves and allowed to become increasingly derelict, but it is not beyond repair. Its structure remains sound and it could and should be restored.'

The Society believes the school does not need to relocate to the vicarage site; Victorian school buildings have shown themselves to be robust and flexible, and with the right approach the infant and junior school buildings could be expanded and adapted for the needs of a 21st century education.

Mr Harris added: 'Knocking down the listed vicarage and selling off the junior school is a needlessly wasteful approach that would also be extremely damaging to setting of the Grade I-listed church and to this unique ensemble of buildings. The Diocese needs to go back to the drawing board.'

A much more sustainable and sensitive scheme is needed for the St George's Church site and the Victorian Society is urging Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council to refuse permission for this application.


Wednesday 28 September, 2011

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