My first reaction on hearing the plans to demolish Ferney Lee was one of disappointment and dismay.
As a former pupil both of Roomfield J&I School – which moved to the premises in the 80s I think - and of Todmorden Grammar School, the building, especially the Victorian part holds many fond memories, and is visually pleasing.
A purpose built school, easy to maintain, sustainable in design, building materials, longevity and running costs sounds ideal, but I’m afraid I don’t have much faith in the Public Sector buildings over the last few decades.
To name a few:
l The current Todmorden Health Centre (PFI, as tax payers, we’ll be paying for years– which my family calls Tod NHS headquarters), is way over specced, huge to heat, many empty seats in many waiting rooms of many receptions, and not many visitors sitting on the ‘pouffes under the palms’. A small solar hot water system pays lip service to renewable energy, whilst the heaters and/or fans go on overdrive.
l The ‘purpose built’ previous Health Centre lasted maybe 20 years? The current public space is great, but the building and demolition costs don’t seem good value to me.
l The High School, desperate to be replaced – famous flat roofs, relatively new – compared to Ferney Lee – and which has lasted best?
l Northgate House Halifax – another “modern” building, badly designed with more miss-spent public money.
I tend to believe that on the whole the Victorians did it better and that there must be a better way of improving, renovating maintaining, insulating etc. the old Ferney Lee building rather than pulling it down.
One could argue that St Paul’s, The Houses of Parliament, Todmorden Town Hall etc etc are not easy to heat, maintain or very fit for purpose, but do we really want to demolish them?