THE demolition of a historic building in one of Wirral’s beauty spots has moved a step closer after being approved by the local authority.
Although only built in the 1970s, the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, on Bidston Hill, was a world centre for research until it closed.
Its owners, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) said it wants to demolish the building because it is unable to sell it and the building costs too much to maintain.
Wirral Council, which owns the lease, has now decided to give NERC permission despite appeals from a local community group to allow them to take it over.
Peter Crawford, who chairs the Bidston Preservation Trust, had asked the council to halt the demolition and allow the creation of a Taiko drumming centre in the former lab.
Mr Crawford, who is also chair of the Wirral Taiko Dragon Drummers, had said their proposals would allow a community use for the centre, and retain a “historic building” which was once a leading international research location.
Mr Crawford said he was disappointed at the council’s decision, but pledged to continue to try to save it.
He also said he feared that if demolition went ahead the site would now become prime target for housing developers, but added: “We are not giving up.”
The four-storey building on the site, known as the Joseph Proudman Laboratory Building, was used for research until 2005 when staff were transferred to new purpose-built premises within the University of Liverpool.
When they first applied for permission to demolish the building, a spokeswoman for NERC said the “historic” buildings on the site – including the observatory – would remain.
A report accompanying the council decision said an application to have the laboratory listed had been turned down by English Heritage.
A spokeswoman for NERC said they cannot comment as they have not yet been informed about the council’s decision and have not received a proposal from the drumming group.