Ex-playschool set to become new homes

The site of the former Poll Tax House and before that Whelley Middle School and Whelley Secondary Modern School, Moore Street, Whelley
The site of the former Poll Tax House and before that Whelley Middle School and Whelley Secondary Modern School, Moore Street, Whelley
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A DECADES-old landmark in Whelley has bitten the dust.

The former school has been flattened by bulldozers but the prominent site off Moore Street will be transformed into affordable properties if Wigan Council’s plans come to fruition.

Built in the last century and known locally as Whelley School, the red brick building in Moore Street saw hundreds of children pass through its doors before it ended its days as an educational establishment when Whelley Middle School closed in August 1988.

It was once visited by renowned actress Vanessa Redgrave speaking at a pre-election meeting of the Workers’ Revolutionary Party in 1979.

In later years the former school was used as council offices, most notoriously as Poll Tax House, with the railed playground as a car park.

But now the building - Council Tax House at the last - has been demolished and its staff moved to other offices although the iron gates to the once noisy playground remain.

And Wigan Council which owns the site has revealed its plans.

The Council and Wigan and Leigh Housing are working in partnership to develop 28 affordable properties on the site.

The scheme - which will be owned by the council and managed by Wigan and Leigh Housing - will be a mixture of high-quality two and three-bedroomed houses and two-bedroomed apartments available to rent to the over-50s.

The properties will be allocated to people on the council housing register using a local lettings policy.

A spokesman for the council said: “The full demolition of the former Council Tax House building is due to be completed in May, and construction of the new homes will begin in summer and with completion expected in November 2014.”

Part of the local authority’s efforts to reduce its budget by tens of millions of pounds has been to sell off surplus land.

The council has a number of vacant buildings which it hopes to sell to help make some savings.