The Standard has been given an exclusive tour on the completion of an impressive £1.25 million project to restore a town eyesore to become nine council homes.
The former Quarrington School on Grantham Road was built in 1867 but closed in 2002. After standing empty and becoming a decaying target for vandals, it was pulled back from the brink by North Kesteven District Council which has worked with developer Sankate Homes to create nine social housing units within the school building and grounds.
The overall project including land purchase was £1.25m including £400,000 from Homes England’s Affordable Housing Programme which made the scheme more viable. The completed scheme is now being used as a case study to encourage other authorities to look at older buildings as potential innovative social housing schemes.
The renovations have kept many original features, including the old windows, attractive air vents and brick arches. A room has even been created in the former chapel which still has its decorative tiled floor and piscina for Holy Water.
Leader of the Council Richard Wright said: “The aim was to strip out any additional features and restore the building back to its original form. New divisions have been installed in such a way they can be removed without damaging the fabric of the building.”
These include suspended mezzanine floors in the roof to create bedroom spaces which would not look out of place in a Docklands studio apartment.
New properties were built in keeping in the grounds.
Coun Wright said it has delivered much needed council homes while preserving an important older building for future generations.
Among the guests were three former teachers at the school, Helen Bristow, Sandra Pacey and Betty Troughton, described it as a “transformation” having been sad to see the building decay over the years. Mrs Bristow said: “It was a happy school.
“When I came in the 1960s there were just the three classrooms with movable screens in between. Then they built more classrooms in the 1970s and brought in more staff as it grew and finally had to move.”
Scott Masterman from NKDC said due to the sensitive nature of the building, they will be careful about who is chosen as tenants and a support package will give guidance on maintenance.
Neighbour Lorna Mulhern said: “I used to hear the children playing. It has been a shame to have it empty and going to waste, but now it is going to be much loved.”