Citing security risks and liability concerns, landowners Seemore Properties had asked the council for permission to knock down the old Ridge Lea Hospital off Quernmore Road, only to be refused due to insufficient information regarding environmental impacts in the proposal.
The hospital, which operationally closed in September 2016, has been vacant for years. A demolition request written by Star Planning and Development described how the building had been subject to looting, unlawful breaking and entering, and vandalism – despite having security employed by the NHS Trust.
The statement went on to say that re-using the existing buildings was “an uneconomic proposition”.
Ultimately the decision was refused by the council, which cited insufficient information on how the demolition would impact the habitats of protected species of bats and protected trees that surround the site.
Built in 1916, Ridge Lea Hospital was originally designed to be a separate women’s unit to the nearby Lancaster Moor mental asylum. It went on to become part of the Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust as a mental health hospital.
Birmingham-based Seemore Properties purchased the freehold of the land in November 2021.
If the demolition request had been approved, work would have begun on taking down the former hospital in March, with a tentative completion date of 30 June. Seemore Properties said it would recycle any material that was eligible, sending off anything that cannot be recycled to be disposed of at the Suez facility off Ovangle Road in Lancaster.
Looking to learn more? The application’s reference number with Lancaster City Council is 21/01527/PAD.
This story has been updated to reflect the council’s decision.