Urgent pleas were today made to redevelop an historic Blackpool school building after it became a magnet for vandals and yobs.
The former Arnold School, in Lytham Road, which can count Blackpool FC hero Jimmy Armfield and acting stars Jonas Armstrong and Jenna-Louise Coleman among its alumni, now lies boarded up.
Its playing fields are overgrown and its grounds damaged after a spate of repeated break-ins and vandal attacks.
And residents in South Shore today called for the “eyesore” building to be bulldozed before it becomes a permanent blight on the area.
They say it is the latest blow to affect the area with numerous hotel buildings left in ruins and shops on Highfield Road closing their doors.
Today the owners of the school, United Learning, said the site had been boarded up for security reasons after a series of break-ins and revealed it is in “detailed” negotiations about the sale of its land for redevelopment.
This action which has been taken by the school will only add a further detrimental effect to the area
But neighbours said something must be done urgently to improve the building’s current look.
Trevor Hudson, 65, of Third Avenue, South Shore, said: “South Shore has suffered enough already, with the state of the Promenade hotels and shops closing on Highfield Road.
“This action which has been taken by the school will only add a further detrimental effect to the area. I would rather the site be sold and built on. Further to this, the school let the playing field get into a right state last summer, only cutting the grass when it became so long and dry, that there was a threat of it catching on fire.”
Christine Bagot, 68, of Second Avenue in South Shore, added: “All the time we have lived here we have been a neighbour to the school. In the main the area has been on the up because we have had a good school. But the school has gone and in the interim we are not in a good area. It has pulled the area down.”
Arnold School, which first opened in 1896, during the Victorian expansion of public boarding schools, merged with King Edward VII and Queen Mary School in 2011 to form Arnold KEQMS School.
Pupils continued to be taught at the Arnold School site until 2013 before all students moved onto its current site at Clifton Drive South, St Annes.
Jim Walker, 66, of Third Avenue, South Shore, said: “The reason the building is like it is is because the owners have not sold it. I believe they have not sold it because of the amount of money they are asking for.
“The whole thing leaves me disgusted. What has happened is a disgrace.”
Claire Smith, owner of Number One St Luke’s B&B in St Luke’s Road, South Shore, added: “We have some awful areas at the moment. It is sad for those who live here. We have a great community and not many years ago this was a thriving area.”
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said: “Nobody wants to have a building which was an important feature of the South Shore establishment becoming an eyesore.”
But a spokesman for United Learning said: “We provide a 24-hour physical presence on the Arnold School site including live-in cover and frequent patrols by security personnel overnight and at weekends.
“It has however suffered a spate of break-ins and incidents of vandalism.
“The ground floors of the junior and senior school buildings have now been boarded up. We are currently in detailed negotiations around the sale of the site and look forward to these being completed so its redevelopment can begin.”