Conservation group joins battle to stop redevelopment of Preston's historic Harris Orphanage
The campaign to stop the redevelopment of Preston's historic Harris Park has now won support from the influential conservation group Save Britain's Heritage.
They have joined other big-hitters like Historic England, The Victorian Society and Sport England in opposing the plans which go before the city council's planning committee on Thursday.
Harris Park's owners, the Bhailok family, want to turn the Victorian buildings, which once housed the Harris Orphanage, into homes.
They also want to build a further 23 detached houses on the sports field at the rear, where England star Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff learned to play cricket.
But more than 220 objections have been submitted, with the council's own planning officers also opposing the scheme because of the impact it would have on an important heritage site.
Lending its support to the campaign, Save Britain's Heritage says the redevelopment "threatens to destroy the integrity and unique significance of Harris Park, and conflicts with its status as a listed Park and Garden and conservation area."
Marcus Binney, executive president, said: "The Victorians delighted in laying out model villages with matching houses, often in ornamental styles. Most were built on large country estates, but they had an urban counterpart in Dr Barnardo's Homes, only two of which now survive.
"These model villages evolved from Blaise Hamlet near Bristol, created by the great John Nash architect of Buckingham Palace and are a precursor of the garden cities of the early 20th century.
"The Harris village is of exceptional quality and must be protected from intrusive development”.
Local campaign leaders Prema Taylor and Joanne Adams have asked if they can address the planning committee when it discusses the project on Thursday.
Prema said: "As proud Prestonians, we are passionate about preserving what is left of our local history and heritage and passing it down to future generations.
"We therefore call on the city council planning committee to refuse these damaging plans.”
The Harris Orphanage complex was built in 1877 as a legacy of benefactor Edmund Robert Harris. It contains 14 listed buildings and structures.
The site was bought by the Bhailok family in 2007.