South Ribble Borough Council Provides Update on Fire-Damaged Occleshaw House in Leyland


In the aftermath of a devastating fire that engulfed Occleshaw House, a Grade II listed property in Leyland, the South Ribble Borough Council has issued a comprehensive update regarding the current state of the building and the measures being undertaken to address the situation.

Details of the Fire Incident:

On June 13, Occleshaw House, a derelict historic building situated adjacent to the Fox Lane roundabout, suffered a substantial fire. The incident prompted a swift response from emergency services, with four fire engines and the aerial ladder platform from Preston being dispatched to the scene at 3.43 am. Firefighting efforts continued throughout the day.

Community Concerns and Questions:

The occurrence of the fire has raised concerns within the local community about the future of the site and the reasons behind its deterioration. Questions have emerged as to the management and restoration plans for the property.

Council’s Response and Actions Taken:

In an official statement, a spokesperson from the South Ribble Borough Council acknowledged the building’s prolonged vacancy and the recent fire incident. The Council clarified that, despite its commitment to restoration, its actions are constrained by Heritage Protection Legislation. This limits the extent to which the Council can intervene, allowing only minimal measures to ensure the building’s safety and structural integrity.

The Council has been collaborating closely with the building’s owner to navigate the situation effectively. An assessment of the property’s safety was conducted, involving a survey by the Council, the fire inspector, and a specialist heritage advisor. The assessment deemed the building to be structurally secure. In a noteworthy move, a specialized surveyor employed drones to inspect hard-to-reach areas, such as the main ridge timbers.

To expedite the process of making the building watertight, the Council is taking proactive measures to initiate the necessary work promptly.

Community Reaction and Call for Accountability:

Community members have raised valid concerns regarding the financial burden on taxpayers, as well as the apparent lack of responsibility exhibited by the building’s owners. Many are advocating for the owners to assume accountability for the property’s restoration and eventual reuse.

Police Inquiry and Closure of Investigation:

Following the fire incident, a 40-year-old man with no fixed abode was arrested under suspicion of arson. However, the police recently announced the closure of the investigation due to insufficient evidence.

Historical Significance of Occleshaw House:

Occleshaw House holds a significant place in Leyland’s history, having served multiple roles over the centuries. Originally constructed in the early 18th century, it has functioned as a dower house, chemists, post office, printing press, and a doctor’s surgery. By 2020, the building had become vacant, contributing to its deteriorating condition.

In Conclusion, the South Ribble Borough Council’s update sheds light on the efforts being made to address the fire-damaged Occleshaw House. The community’s concerns about the site’s future and the role of the building’s owners remain central to the ongoing discourse surrounding this historic property.

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