The future of St Joseph’s Orphanage has finally been revealed after more than a decade of uncertainty.Advertisement
Plans have been submitted to Preston City Council for a scheme of homes and gardens at the historic Theatre Street site.
Czero Developments have submitted proposals to restore the Chapel Tower and create a public square, a complex of 22 retirement homes and a number of apartments, sympathetic to the site’s heritage.
The view from Mount Street will also be opened up if the planning committee gives the go-ahead.
For the last 10 years, St Joseph’s Orphanage has proved a tricky site for developers and has attracted vandals and urban explorers – but developers who have shown an interest in the site have not had the specialist knowledge required to restore it.
In 2016 the orphanage was included in the Victorian Society’s Top 10 list of endangered Victorian buildings.
Preston City Council called in development team Czero and Buttress Architects, that each specialise in the development of historic buildings and sites, in a bid to find a solution for the St Joseph’s site.
Read more: Watch inside abandoned St Joseph’s Orphanage in Preston
Simon Linford, Director of Czero admits that St Joseph’s Orphanage site presents greater challenges.
He said: “The difficulty here is the condition of the buildings and the density of the site. We have had to go back to square one and work out what can be saved that is still meaningful.
“At the same time, we do not want to over develop the site with tall buildings and lots of apartments.
The architects have designed to a scale that respects the historic building, opening up new views of this much love piece of Preston’s heritage.”
The development proposals create a series of public and private spaces with gardens and new buildings reflecting the surrounding urban grain.
The centrepiece of the development will be St Joseph’s Square, where the restored Chapel and tower will be framed by ten townhouses, in a 21st century interpretation of Preston’s Georgian squares.
The small but highly detailed Chapel, along with the landmark tower and spire, will be restored and converted into unique apartments and the view
of the Chapel from Mount Street will be opened up for the first time since the hospital wing was built in 1933.
Three further apartment buildings will complete the scheme.
On the southern edge of the site there will be a block of 22 apartments for the over 55s, with generous dimensions and a private garden.
On Mount Street two new blocks will frame public gardens, which will also provide a new pedestrian route linking Theatre Street through to Mount Street and then on to Winckley Square.
Read more: St Joseph’s Orphanage redevelopment has been announced
By combining family housing, retirement apartments, penthouses, and apartments for rent, Czero is hoping to create a vibrant and mixed community.
Lead architect Stephen Anderson, Director at Buttress, said: “We wanted to develop a scheme that is forward looking while making reference to and celebrating the character of the site.
“As a result, we have created a site layout that puts the Chapel and tower at the heart of the development.
“New openings and public spaces have also been created that will frame and, for the first time in over a century, provide views of these important heritage assets.
“All new build and refurbished elements have been designed with a material palette that is in keeping with the existing buildings and surrounding context, while also serving to define the site as a
new, contemporary neighbourhood.
“The scheme will not only transform the site into an attractive
place to live but will make a positive contribution to the wider city.”
Read more: Plans to create an urban village in the Stoneygate area have been unveiled
Czero hopes that the local community will understand the only way to regenerate the site is to accept that most of the existing buildings are beyond saving.
The proposals involve the demolition of major elements of the site, including most of the Victorian orphanage block.
However Czero say this is a last resort in a race against time.
A spokesperson said: “By taking some of the most damaged and structurally unsafe elements of the existing complex away, new life can be breathed into the remaining and most salvageable buildings.”
What do you think of the plans for St Joseph’s Orphanage? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.