The following is Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society’s formal objection to the planning application made to demolish the former St Giles’ and St George’s Primary School.
“The current former school building has undeniable architectural, historic and heritage value and it forms a fitting, delightful, single storey backdrop for the Queen Victoria statue and Queen’s Gardens. Unfortunately at present its frontage to Barracks Road cannot be seen or judged because of the very unattractive wooden fence surrounding the site. This school is one of the few remaining architecturally interesting Victorian school buildings remaining and it is of great value to Newcastle’s heritage especially as it is located within the Town Centre Conservation area. We do not believe that sufficient attention or effort has been made to explore alternative uses for the former school and its demolition would greatly diminish the town.
The most outstanding characteristic of the Conservation Area has to be its blend of Georgian and Victorian architecture. Newcastle is, essentially, a market town centre of domestic scale comprising of numerous small traders operating within the ring road on three main thoroughfares. The site in question is located at the north end of the town centre with its frontage onto the duel carriageway ring road. Access to and from the site is limited and congested at peak travel times. The concentration of civic services into the proposed hub will draw footfall to the site and away from many traders in the High Street and town centre. Separate buildings suited to the needs and purposes of the separate services are preferable. Locating services in separate buildings encourages movement around the town rather than concentrating it into a smaller area.
The St Giles’ and St George’s site is too small and cramped for the proposed “Hub”. We believe a four storey building will be too dominant and out of scale for this site which is within the Conservation Area. However to date we have not been told anything about the proposed structure, its style or materials. Whatever the architects propose for this site it is unlikely to improve upon what already exists. The former school played an important role in the lives and education of local people. It is part of the town’s heritage that should not be lost.
Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society strongly objects to the demolition of this important landmark building and urges the Borough Council to reconsider its intention to vacate the Ryecroft site and relocate to a centralised “Hub” on the former St Giles’ and George’s school site.”