Express & Star

Historic school to be bulldozed to make way for 50 homes

An historic former school and council building is set to be demolished to make way for new homes - prompting an angry reaction from heritage groups who are desperate to preserve it.


The Claughton Centre in Blower's Green Road, Dudley, which was formally the Sir Gilbert Claughton School, will be flattened to make a large area of land available for a new housing development, under plans.

The school closed in 1990 and was taken over by Dudley Council which renamed it the Claughton Centre and used it as offices.

Developers see the site as an opportunity to get rid of unused buildings and create much-needed new homes but heritage groups have objected to the plan, saying it will result in a important building being wiped out.

Save Britain's Heritage and The Victorian Society have both contacted Dudley Council to make their feelings known.

Around 56 homes would be built on the site, which falls within a regeneration corridor where council bosses are keen to see disused employment sites redeveloped for housing.

An outline application has been recommended for approval by Dudley Council officers with councillors expected to make a final decision next week.

But the groups remain hopeful the building can be saved.

In its letter Save Britain's Heritage said: "The Claughton Centre is a 1904 Edwardian school building of architectural merit, built to designs of Barrowcliff and Allcock, a Loughborough firm with several listed buildings to their name (including the fine Carnegie Library in Loughborough).

"It is built of red brick with buff terracotta detailing, in the Jacobean style, and is an attractive building worthy of retention and re-use."

The Victorian Society said: "We are not persuaded by the argument that the building cannot be adapted for another use which may include residential. We note that until recently the building has in fact been used as office accommodation. We consider that the building forms an important part of the townscape on a major approach road to Dudley town centre. We therefore strongly object to the demolition of this building and to this application as presented."

Last year, English Heritage was asked by campaigners to consider listing the building to ensure their protection. The organisation decided against listing them, concluding that the buildings has 'strong local architectural and historic interest' but had a 'lack of consistent architectural quality' and that past alterations had eroded their character.

The school was originally called the Dudley Upper Standards School when it opened in 1904, undergoing several name changes over the years before being named becoming the Sir Gilbert Claughton School in 1957, the title honouring a late 19th century mayor of Dudley. It closed following a merger with another school to create Castle High.

Dudley Council then moved into the site but it is no longer used by the authority.

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