THE FORMER GATEACRE COMPREHENSIVE
SCHOOL SITE, GRANGE LANE
As a result of a recent spate of enquiries received from Grange Lane residents, we contacted Councillor Barbara Mace on 6th September and obtained the following information:
The empty school building has been identified as vulnerable to vandalism, arson, etc., pending demolition. On a purely temporary basis, therefore, between 15 and 20 individuals (not couples, not families) will be accommodated within the building as 'Guardians'. This scheme - run by Ad Hoc Property Management - has apparently proved very successful elsewhere in preventing damage and antisocial behaviour within and around empty buildings. The tenants will pay £50 a week rent and MUST be in employment, each of them being fully vetted and interviewed prior to acceptance. They will be accommodated in purpose-built bedsit units scattered throughout the building - to give the impression from outside that the building is still occupied, with lights coming on and off at night, etc. - but will share shower facilities, etc. (which are currently being installed). Experience elsewhere indicates that such tenancies - which involve responsibilities such as the cleaning of communal areas - tend to attract professional people including doctors, musicians, etc., rather than 'the homeless'.
The long-term future of the site has not yet been decided; but it is likely to involve the demolition of the existing buildings and the laying out of a new housing estate (with the playing fields to the rear, being a former landfill site, retained as open space). A planning application (ref. 07O/0891, to erect 114 houses) was submitted in 2007, but this was only an outline application - and no decision was ever made on it. We have been told by the Council that the site will be marketed once a 'planning brief' has been produced (and our Society will, we hope, have an input to this brief); but work on the brief has not yet started.
Cllr Mace is intending to produce a leaflet shortly, for door-to-door distribution within the area, explaining what is going on.