THE 19th century Wilnecote Board School building is to be added to Tamworth’s Local List of significant buildings of historic and architectural interest.
The building is owned by Staffordshire County Council and was known as the Wilnecote Community Centre. It was used as a day care centre and Wilnecote Youth Centre until it was closed last year. Since then, it has been the subject of a public campaign, led by the Tamworth & District Civic Society, to protect the building from demolition and preserve it as a significant part of Wilnecote’s heritage and history.
The Wilnecote Board School is now to be added to Tamworth’s Local List, after the borough council’s Cabinet agreed to support a request from the Aspire & Prosper Scrutiny Committee.
The Tamworth Local List offers recognition to buildings in the borough which are not of sufficient interest to be nationally listed, but have some local architectural and historical interest. The Local List was first compiled in the late 1990s and currently has around 80 buildings, structures and places of interest on it.
Cllr Daniel Cook, Leader of Tamworth Borough Council said: “I arranged a meeting with the Civic Society earlier this year to discuss the former school building in Wilnecote. I will be the first to admit that through the 1960s, 70s and 80s, too much of Tamworth’s heritage was knocked down in the name of progress. We need to be more mindful of our past as we plan our future.
“After investigation by a cross-part scrutiny committee, Cabinet has agreed to locally list the building. Local Listing does not give a building any additional planning protection and does not prevent it from being demolished. It does mean, however, that its conservation as a heritage asset would need to be a factor in considering any future planning application.”
He added: “We have agreed to help where we can in this matter, but it must be remembered that Tamworth Borough Council does not own the building, nor do we have any plans to build on the site ourselves. While the site is allocated for housing in the Local Plan, this does not mean that the building itself would be lost.
“I am happy to have further talks with Tamworth Civic Society in this matter, but still await all the evidence from them which will allow me to approach the site owners, Staffordshire County Council, with a solid plea to save the building.
“Tamworth Borough Council still continues to support progress and growth for the borough, but we must do this in the right way and protect the heritage that has real local or national value, if this can be demonstrated.”
The whole of the Local List and all of Tamworth’s seven Conservation Areas are now to be reviewed to make sure that they are up to date and can demonstrate that the buildings included are of heritage value.
Members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on the Local List and the Conservation Areas, as well as nominating buildings and areas which are not currently included.