Demolition is “probably what’s best” for the former Greengarth care home, a Penrith town councillor has claimed.
Jonathan Davies wanted Penrith Town Council to call on the county council to gift the former Greengarth care home building to Penrith as an asset which the town could develop into a community hub after the authority announced its plans to demolish it and grass the area over due to it being surplus to requirements.
Mr Davies said that instead of it being demolished entirely, the building could be used to serve all in the community, and also be used as a space to evolve a youth hub for Penrith as part of the community space.
“I want us to call on the county council to consider not pulling down the building at this time and to consider working with the community to find an alternative use for it,” he said.
However, the motion failed to win the support of the town council’s community, culture and economic growth committee.
At a meeting held online yesterday, committee member Dave Knaggs raised concerns about the financial implications of the proposal to save an “old dilapidated building”.
“I think it’s good to try and save buildings and put them to community use, but there’s a lot more central buildings that I would be really concerned about,” said Mr Knaggs.
There were more suitable buildings in the town centre, which could be put to good use, and Mr Knaggs said he would rather focus on some of those, to keep them up and running.
“We really do need to concentrate on getting them filled up or the town is going to look like a ghost town,” he added.
Town councillor Charlie Shepherd said the building was 50 years old, not of the best standard, and had no architectural merit.
“It’s a 60s building, and like most 60s buildings of its sort, demolition is probably what’s best for it. But, obviously, it would be a pity to lose it if we had a good use for it,” said Mr Shepherd.
Hilary Snell said its location was not ideal as a community hub.
“I think it needs to be more focused in the centre of the town, so I would rather, to be honest, have an open space there with a possibility of a new build being put on there.
“You can build things relatively cheaply, modern builds with pods and things like that can be better made to fit a purpose than trying to reuse an old building that has lived its time,” said Ms Snell.
After the committee voted against the motion, chairman Scott Jackson said town councillors would, however, be enthusiastic to work on any project that comes forward to provide community hub space in Penrith where it is possible to do so.
Cumbria County Council plans to begin demolition work on Greengarth next month, and have the process complete by May.
The final four residents of the former care home moved out in October 2019.
Since then, the site has been used occasionally by the police for training purposes.
With the decision taken that the building is not cost effective to run, and would ultimately become a “financial burden”, it was decided by the county council that the best course of action would be demolition.
All of the structures on the site will be demolished, including foundations, and the site will be levelled with top soil, and seeded to form an “amenity grass area”, according to the plans.