Sefton Council has approved plans by Octopus Healthcare to redevelop the former Birkdale School for Hearing Impaired Children in Southport as an extra care accommodation site.
Octopus submitted plans in May for a £35m-plus scheme at the Lancaster Road site. The proposal includes the conversion and remodelling of the listed school building, which was substantially damaged by fire in 2010, as well as six new build blocks.
In total, the project will entail the development of 113 extra care apartments, with associated facilities including a bistro, residents’ lounge, library and hair and beauty salon, as well as providing on-site care. Gaunt Francis is the scheme’s architect, while Sedgwick Associates has advised on planning.
The facility is to be operated by Cinnamon Care Collection, which describes itself as an “exclusive group of luxury care homes”.
Cllr Daren Veidman, Sefton Council’s cabinet member for planning and building control, said: “We have worked extremely hard to secure a sustainable and sensitive use for the former school and this application will safeguard an iconic building.
“The successful application will seek to secure the building’s removal from the Council’s listed buildings ‘at risk’ register while also contributing to the removal of West Birkdale conservation area from the national ‘at risk’ register. We look forward to working closely with Octopus Healthcare as they conserve, restore and develop this fantastic site.”
The site was originally opened in 1901 as Terra Nova, a private boarding school, before it became the school for the partially hearing in 1948. Listed in 1999, it was used as a school until its sale in 2003, since when it has remained vacant. The 2010 fire caused extensive damage including the destruction of the whole eastern wing. Historic England has endorsed the redevelopment plans.
Of the six new blocks, Blocks A-D, styled as “villa blocks,” will each include 11 apartments over three storeys, with Block E, also three storeys, including 31 apartments. Block F will adjoin the main building with a glazed link.
The professional team on the project also includes project manager Quartz; highways consultant WYG; heritage consultant Kathryn Sather & Associates; Tier Consult as structural engineer; Appletons as landscape architect; Betts Hydro as hydro engineer; and Erap as ecologist.
The care sector is an active part of the market, with Octopus Healthcare last week announcing the £60m acquisition of a North West and Midlands portfolio of developments from New Care, part of the McGoff Group, all of which have been leased back to that business to operate.