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February 12, 2004

Church 'putting cash before the community'

From: Liverpool Echo, UK - Feb 12, 2004

By Andy Kelly
Daily Post Staff

THE Catholic Church was last night accused of putting financial reward before community gain as a former school site was earmarked for housing.

Developer Fairclough Homes has been granted planning permission to build 58 homes on the former St Francis Xavier school site in Childwall.

It had been hoped that the land on Queens Drive could be used for educational purposes to tie in with the neighbouring Childwall Sports College, formerly Childwall Comprehensive.

There had also been plans to create a new home for the Merseyside Centre for the Deaf on the land but the lure of a housing development now appears to have won the day.

Dewi Phillips, headmaster at Child-wall Sports College, and Sue Griffiths, the school's chair of governors, both objected to the housing plan.

Ms Griffiths said: "The Archdiocese, I understand, had agreed to sell the land to the Merseyside Centre for the Deaf and that would have been an excellent development.

"But it now appears that the Archdiocese has received a better offer for the land and are perhaps only looking at the financial rewards rather than the wider benefits to the community as a whole." Mr Phillips said: "I understand there is an educational covenant on the land which should be looked at again." It will now be up to the city council as to whether the educational covenant on the land is lifted.

City officials had been trying to broker a deal which would have seen the Deaf Centre move to the Childwall site allowing West Derby Boys School to move to the current Deaf Centre site but agreement could not be reached.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese said: "Proposals were debated with the local community over a period of years but unfortunately a satisfactory agree-ment could not be reached.

"It was only at that time that the Archdiocese looked towards a commercial sale."

Coun Paul Clein, the city's cabinet member for education, remains adamant that the SFX site should be used only for educational purposes.

He said: "There is an educational covenant on the land which would have to be lifted by the city council and a fine paid."

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