A DEVELOPER is urging people to help save two historic listed buildings from going to "rack and ruin".

Oak Tree Developments acquired the land at Newton Park Drive in 2018 and submitted a planning application to build 23 new homes on the site off the A49.

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Central to the development are plans to restore the manor house, built in 1774, and barn which dates back to the 1600s.

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The restored buildings would deliver a further six apartments and four houses.

The Grade II listed buildings have lain empty for decades falling into an advanced state of disrepair.

Oak Tree says this is the last opportunity to save the buildings, described by Historic England as “not only of local significance but of national importance”.

An online petition has been launched which will be submitted to the council planning committee.

St Helens Council will reach a decision on the plans by June 14.

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If approved, Oak Tree says the scheme would see "both listed buildings restored and incorporated into a wider development to provide much needed additional local housing" and that cost of the restoration will be enabled by revenue generated from the housing development.

The site, which forms part of a much larger parcel of land known as Parkside West, is in the process of being removed from green belt by the council, following the Green Belt Review in December 2018.

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David Lloyd, managing director of Oak Tree Developments, said: “These historic buildings are in a very poor structural condition and this really is their last chance for survival.

"St Helens Council did give its backing to the previous owner’s plans for development of the listed buildings and nine other existing buildings on the site back in 2007.

"However, they then did a U-turn due to the potential of the neighbouring freight terminal going ahead.

"As a result, the nine other buildings deteriorated so badly and became a safety hazard so had to be demolished. Twelve years on and the freight terminal still shows no sign of going ahead and all the while these remaining two historic buildings are going to rack and ruin.”

He added: “No one has subsequently come forward with any other proposals for the site and we are not aware of sufficient subsidy being available from either St Helens Council, Historic England or any other source.

"The buildings are in need of substantial investment, via what is known as enabling development, to secure their future. There is no realistic alternative solution.

“We are calling on local people to sign our petition and write to the council to support the planning application which will not only deliver quality family housing for the local community but will preserve these fabulous buildings for generations to come. "The alternative will inevitably be to see the buildings deteriorate beyond repair, as no other plans have emerged to save them in the last 12 years and time really is running out.”

The scheme is smaller than the 2007 proposal for 39 homes.

Oak Tree say the facades will be retained as will "the architectural heritage and personality" of each building and the materials used will be "as close as possible to the originals".

The developer also plans an ecological pond for the site as well as extensive landscaping.

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A Heritage Assessment states: “The two listed buildings at the application site are of national importance, albeit they have substantially deteriorated and both buildings can be considered at risk.

"Without intervention, further deterioration will occur leading to the loss of the buildings. The proposed development is considered favourable as it will rescue the buildings and enhance their appearance and significance.”

Previous land owner Bill Atkinson, who sold the land to in a last ditch bid to see the buildings protected, added: “It really is the last chance for these buildings.

"I have spent over £100,000 trying to shore up the structures with scaffolding and put security on the site to protect it from fly tippers and trespassers but this cost cannot continue without the enabling development and if it is not granted, this would certainly be the end for the buildings. It’s really a local tragedy that the plight of these landmark buildings seems to have been ignored by the Council in favour of a commercial development which shows no sign of materialising.”

Residents can support the plans by signing the petition here.