Another fine housing scheme!

12th February 2020 | posted in News

Railway Housing Association has unveiled plans to redevelop a rundown old school which was once attended by comedy legend Stan Laurel.

We are seeking to build 28 affordable homes for rent on the site of the old King James School at Bishop Auckland.

This will include the sympathetic restoration of the front of the main Grade II listed building - known as the Laurel Building after the school’s most famous former popular pupil – which was badly damaged in a fire in 2017.

Subject to planning approval the building will be converted into 12 two-bedroom apartments with a further 16 two-bedroom bungalows being built at the rear, in a cul-de-sac layout. All the homes will be let to older people.

Anne Rowlands, Chief Executive of Railway Housing Association, said: “Our plans are aimed at addressing the need for high quality, energy efficient two-bedroom older person’s accommodation in Bishop Auckland.

“The development of the former King James School will also help to regenerate a rundown site which has become an eyesore to those in the immediate area.”

In its planning application, which is expected to be determined by Durham County Council in February, Railway Housing Association has vowed to retain the western façade of the building which fronts onto South Church Road. This part of the building dates back to 1875.

Although the rest of the building will need to be demolished, due to its poor and unstable condition, the Association will use materials in keeping with its history, including a Victorian-style tiled roof.

Anne added: “In 2019, Railway Housing Association won an award for our development in Darlington, which included the sympathetic conversion of a listed railway engine shed built in 1844 and during our 100-year history, we have also been able to successfully redevelop other sites of historical importance, such as the old Stockton railway station.

“We are therefore mindful of the history and significance of the King James School site and our scheme will ensure we preserve a key element of the historic part of the building.”

Subject to planning being granted, work on the site is set to start in May with completion expected around September 2021.

Stan Laurel attended King James School as a boarder between 1902 and 1903.


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