Site of former Towneley High School returned to parkland

BACK TO PARK: County Coun. Susie Charles with borough Couns. Geoff Sumner and Karen Heseltine, as well as others involved in the project (S)

BACK TO PARK: County Coun. Susie Charles with borough Couns. Geoff Sumner and Karen Heseltine, as well as others involved in the project (S)

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WILDFLOWER meadows and young trees now stand on the site of the former Towneley High School – several years after a bitter dispute threatened to throw a school building scheme off track.

The transformation of the site back to parkland was a requirement when Lancashire County Council was finally given permission to build the new Unity College on a different site within Towneley Park after a bitter wrangle.

Burnley Council opposed the construction of the new school under the £250m. Building Schools for the Future programme, backing the views of residents who did not want to see the school built in the middle of the park, on fields previously used by football teams.

The impasse eventually led to a public inquiry with the final decision made by the Government in the county council’s favour.

One stipulation was that the county council had to revert the site of the original school back to parkland.

County Coun. Susie Charles Lancashire County Council’s Cabinet member for children and schools, said: “I know Towneley Park is important to the people of Burnley and I am delighted we have been able to enhance it with this beautiful new area where the former school once stood.”

Following the opening of Unity College last September, the old Towneley High School building, which dominated the entrance to Towneley Park, was demolished.

The new parkland, which covers around five hectares includes a wetland, paths, wildflower meadows and tree planting.

Stonework from the old school has been used to create an entrance feature and a new bat house has also been built to accommodate bats that previously roosted in the roof of the old school.

The new parkland was designed by the county council’s landscape architect, Jeff Culshaw, in consultation with the Friends of Towneley Park.