This building looks set to be demolished – despite York Civic Trust saying it would be a huge loss

The former gym at Water Lane High School for Girls. Photograph © Google Street View
2 Jul 2018 @ 9.15 pm
| Environment

‘It would be a huge loss to the heritage of York to demolish it.’

So said York Civic Trust about the art deco school gym at Burton Stone Community Centre – but council officers still believe it should be knocked down.

The building is all that remains of the school that once stood on the site. But it would be bulldozed under city council plans build 29 flats and four bungalows in an extension to Marjorie Waite Court extra care housing complex – as well as 150 sq m of new community space.

A report prepared for the planning committee says York needs the new housing to to cope with “sharply increased demand for supported accommodation for those over 75 years of age” and adds:

At the same time the existing community centre buildings are underutilised and in a poor state of structural repair which would be expensive to remedy.

Acceptable loss

The council wants to extend extension to Marjorie Waite Court extra care housing complex. Photograph © Google Street View
However, the Civic Trust have spoken against the scheme saying it would be possible to provide new community facilities without destroying a rare piece of art deco architecture in York.

The trust’s boss Dr David Fraser said earlier this year that the building could be saved “with little more imagination”.

Both the trust and the 20th Century Society say the building is a rare example of its style in York, and the trust has also pointed to its important links to national health and fitness campaigns, and early 20th century attempts to improve the quality of life for York’s poorer residents.

The planners’ report, however, says technical problems would be thrown up by trying to design around the old buildings and old boilers. Because of that, the loss of the “non-designated heritage asset” in the gymnasium is acceptable.

The application is due to be decided by the area planning sub-committee on Thursday, July 5.

The school building was designed by architects Penty and Thompson, who also designed the Grade II listed redbrick Queen’s Building at St Peter’s School, and were involved with the Regal Cinema on Piccadilly built in 1937 and demolished in 1989.