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News Archive > General > Rebuild of fire ravaged school into affordable homes to begin

Rebuild of fire ravaged school into affordable homes to begin

By Natasha Swift 2nd December 2020

Rebuild of fire ravaged school into affordable homes to begin
Work will shortly start on regenerating the burnt out remains of historic Carclaze Infant School into affordable housing and car parking

The regeneration of a historic school building in St Austell is set to get underway after the site was ravaged by fire in a suspected arson attack.

Carclaze Infant School, which is more than 100 years old and designed by famed Victorian architect Silvanus Trevail, was engulfed by flames in the early hours of Wednesday, July 8. 
Members of the public reported being woken up at around 2am by “pops and bangs” like fireworks before spotting a fire ripping through the building where famous historian, poet and author A.L. Rowse was educated.

Fire fighters from all over the county were mobilised to the major blaze and worked through the night  to put out the flames.

Police later confirmed to the Voice that the fire was being treated as arson.
Fears that a fire would burn down the building had previously been raised by concerned residents as the old school has become a haven for anti-social behaviour, repeatedly falling victim to arson attacks.

Drug paraphernalia has also been discovered in the building since it was closed when the new state-of-the-art primary school opened in 2010.

Treverbyn Parish Council and St Austell Town Council had tried to get the ball rolling and lift a covenant meaning it could only be used for educational purposes and there was talk of turning the building into a community asset.

But in 2016 Cornwall Council revealed it wanted to use the site for affordable housing and car parking.

In the wake of the fire, MP for St Austell Steve Double wrote to the CEO of Cornwall Council, Kate Kennally, to express his frustration that the site has been allowed to become an eyesore in the community.

He demanded urgent assurances from the chief executive about the future of the site and if it can be restored.

Cornwall councillor for the area, Matt Luke, who was a pupil at the school, has been working with Cornwall Council for the past eight years to renovate the site. 
Following the incident he told the Voice that the fire had been the “ last nail in the coffin” for fed-up residents.

Cornwall Council has now reaffirmed its commitment to regenerating the former school site into affordable housing and is preparing to appoint contractors to clear debris to allow plans for the site to progress. 

Cornwall Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, Tim Dwelly, said: “The priority for Cornwall Council remains to work with partners to secure a sustainable development proposal to safeguard the future for this site in line with the wishes of the community. 

“An important step towards this is for the debris from the fire damage to be cleared to enable safe access for building surveyors so they can inspect the structure. Cornwall Council is in the process of finding contractors to undertake this work.” 

Cornwall Council has worked with Cornwall Rural Housing Association over the past two years to bring forward a plan to use the structure of the building to create affordable homes for local people, as well as creating community parking on the site. 

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit earlier this year the scheme was due to go forward for planning consent, with public consultation about to take place. 
Cornwall Council Portfolio Holder for Homes, Andrew Mitchell, said: “Providing good quality affordable homes for local people is a top priority and we will continue to work to bring this site back into use to achieve that aim.” 

Councillor Luke added: “Myself and Treverbyn Parish Council have long been working with Cornwall Council and developers to bring this site forward to a conclusion for the local community and we hope to have contractors on the site shortly clearing the fire debris.” 

Jackie Bull, Cornwall Council local member for St Austell Poltair, said: “I look forward to seeing the wonderful Silvanus Trevail frontage restored and the development moving forward, now, in a speedy manner.” 

Devon and Cornwall Police has now concluded its investigation into the fire, with no charges brought. Anyone who has any information about the incident can still contact the police. 

By Natasha Swift 2nd December 2020

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