A planning application has been submitted to redevelop the St Joseph's Orphanage site in Preston city centre.
For more than a decade the buildings hidden at the end of Theatre Street have been sitting empty, abandoned and decaying, the target of vandals and urban explorers.
Designed for developer, Czero, proposals have been created to revitalise this key site and bring family living into the heart of the city.
The plans create a series of public and private spaces with gardens and new buildings reflecting the surrounding urban grain. The centrepiece of the development will be St Joseph’s Square, where the restored Chapel and tower will be framed by ten townhouses, in a 21st century interpretation of Preston’s Georgian squares. The small but highly detailed Chapel, along with the landmark tower and spire, will be restored and converted into unique 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 complete the scheme. On the southern edge of the site there will be a block of 22 apartments for the over 55s, with generous dimensions and a private garden. On Mount Street two new blocks will frame public gardens, which will also provide a new pedestrian route linking Theatre Street through to Mount Street and then on to Winckley Square. By combining family housing, retirement apartments, penthouses, and apartments for rent, Czero is hoping to create a vibrant and mixed community.
Commenting on the proposals 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.”
The proposals involve the demolition of major elements of the site, including most of the Victorian orphanage block. However, this is the last resort in a race against time. By taking some of the most damaged and structurally unsafe elements of the existing complex away, new life can be breathed into the remaining and most salvageable buildings.
The story of the buildings’ current condition has been told in a series of evocative photographs by acclaimed photographer Andy Marshall – a story that closes one chapter in the life of these intriguing buildings but opens up another. Explore his photos here.