Czero Developments and Buttress Architects have submitted a planning application to Preston City Council, for the residential conversion of the grade two-listed St Joseph’s Orphanage.
St Joseph’s Orphanage was built on Mount Street, Preston, in 1872 for Roman Catholic Girls. Having stood empty for more than a decade the site has been vulnerable to vandalism and lead theft, which has resulted in water ingress and fire damage. Investigations revealed that the historic buildings were extensively infested with dry rot and large parts of the site were too unsafe to enter. Plans to deliver residential developments at the site previously were not progressed, due to issues with viability.
According to Czero, “most of the existing buildings are beyond saving” , and bringing forward the regeneration of the site will involve the demolition of most of the major buildings, which the developer said is “a last resort in a race against time”. Buildings from the 1930s, 1950s, and the 1877 block are to be pulled down.
The development proposes a series of public and private spaces with gardens and new buildings. The centrepiece of the development will be St Joseph’s Square, where the restored Chapel and tower will be framed by 10 townhouses, in the style of Preston’s Georgian squares.
The chapel, tower and spire, will be restored and converted into apartments. 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 be built. On the southern edge of the site there will be a block of 22 apartments for the over 55s with a private garden. On Mount Street two blocks will be next to public gardens, with a pedestrian route linking Theatre Street through to Mount Street and then on to Winckley Square.
Overall, the scheme will deliver 50 apartments and 17 townhouses, in a mix of family housing, retirement apartments, penthouses, and apartments for rent.
Buttress and Czero previously worked together on the student accommodation conversion of the grade two-listed Unitarian Chapel, in Manchester.
Simon Linford, director of Czero, 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 loved piece of Preston’s heritage.”
Lead architect Stephen Anderson, director at Buttress, added: “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.”