Former school extension demolition plan

A historic former school will have a “unwelcome, utilitarian” modern extension removed to its appearance, as part of a planned redevelopment of the wider site.

An application has been submitted to knock extensions down at the rear of New College in Telford
An application has been submitted to knock extensions down at the rear of New College in Telford

Wellington’s grade II listed New College was completed in 1912, originally serving as a high school for girls. Described by Historic England as having an “accomplished neoclassical design” and a “striking principal façade”, it had extensions added at its rear throughout the 20th century.

Last year, Telford Council leader Shaun Davies authorised the purchase of the King Street site for redevelopment.

Although the exact form this will take has not yet been decided, demolition plans for buildings at the rear, leaving the original school intact, have been submitted to the borough’s planning department.

A design statement prepared by the council says: “The former college site as a whole contains a number of additional buildings to the east.

“None of these are considered to have any heritage significance in their own right.”

The first extensions took place from 1927. During the 1950s or 1960s a first-floor “link block” was built, supported by pillars from below, “perhaps in anticipation of later extensions”.

The report author adds it is “difficult to unravel” the early history of extensions to the original school building, but “it is clear, that the upper storey where the demolition and making good will take place is of no heritage significance” and “obscures elevations of historic character, due to its utilitarian mid-20th-century mass, form and materials”.

Removing it “will enhance the appearance of the building and create a welcome visual separation from any forthcoming development to the east, following demolition of the non-historic buildings on the site”, the document adds.

The opening where the original school and link building joined will be closed off “on a temporary basis only, to secure the building against intrusion and potential vandalism and make it watertight to prevent decay”.

The report adds that giving it a more “authentic appearance” was considered, but doing so “would be to ‘second-guess’ any forthcoming proposals for the re-use of the building”.

“This could lead to unnecessary expenditure, in turn prejudicing the protection or restoration of more significant features of the building’s architectural qualities,” it adds.

“Future plans for the re-use of the building should be expected to reconsider the architectural approach to this ‘cut-off point’ of the historic building from its later unwelcome additions, to better enhance and reveal the special historic and architectural interest of the building.”

Residents of King Street, Mill Bank, Mill Lane, Orchard Way, Regent Street and School Court and Wellington Town Council will be asked for their views on the proposed demolition during a consultation period which runs until Wednesday, November 10.

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