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College to be replaced by 125 town houses.

Byline: LIAM MURPHY

A PART of Wirral Metropolitan College's past is likely to be demolished to make way for a major new housing estate near Birkenhead town centre.

Developer George Wimpey has submitted detailed plans to build 125 town houses and apartments on the site of the former college building in Borough Road.

The derelict former campus which includes the Glenda Jackson Theatre is to be demolished to make space for the development if the plans are approved by Wirral Council.

The college now has three main sites, at Carlett Park in Eastham, Conway Park and its latest new building at 12 Quays in Birkenhead, which began accepting students in September 2003.

Although Birkenhead MP Frank Field called for the local authority to find another use for the Borough Road building -- describing it as an ``excellent example of modern architecture'' -- local councillors have praised the plans to knock it down.

The foundation stone of the old Birkenhead campus was laid in 1954 by the Queen Mother and teaching began there the following year.

Students completed exams there in July last year after which it was closed down. Wimpey took over ownership of the site earlier this year.

But Oxton councillor Patricia Williams said the building had been an ``eyesore for many years'' and had recently attracted the attention of vandals who had begun their own demolition, smashing windows and starting a fire inside.

Cllr Williams said: ``The windows have been smashed and there was a fire in there. '' Residents' concerns now were to ensure the demolition did not spread asbestos which is believed to be inside the building. Cllr Williams has been in touch with the council to ensure precautions would be taken.

``The general feeling is the sooner it's demolished the better. It's been a dreadful eyesore for many years. It's such an alien building, and makes it such a depressing travel along that road, '' she said.

Cllr Simon Holbrook, of the neighbouring Prenton ward, also said it was time for the building to go.

He said: ``I know Frank Field wanted the building preserved as a statement to the architecture of the time, but I don't see any merit in the building, and I understand it was not considered suitable for conversion into anything residential or commercial. ''

In principle, he agreed with the building's replacement, but was waiting to see the detailed plans.

Cllr Holbrook added: ``This also represents an opportunity to do something with the traffic management in the area. ''

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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 17, 2004
Words:427
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