DEMOLITION of a Merseyside research centre at a renowned beauty spot is underway.
The former Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory building at Bidston Hill should be completely demolished by mid March.
It follows a last-ditch attempt by campaigners to halt the destruction of the building, which is owned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
NERC had said it needed to demolish the building because it could not sell it and it cost too much to maintain.
However, Peter Crawford, chairman of Bidston Preservation Trust, had asked the council if the Taiko drumming centre could operate in the former lab. Mr Crawford, who is also chairman of Wirral Taiko Dragon Drummers, said the proposals would save the “historic” building for community use.
He said he was astonished demolition was happening so soon, believing they would have had a "window of opportunity" to still take over the building and have almost completed a business plan.
He said :"I find it unbelievable they have allowed this to happen. We are trying to work up a package which would benefit local people, particularly those with special needs. When you hear about all sorts of closures being planned by the council, and I find this sad."
Demolition is due to take around four months and be completed around March 18 after which a spokeswoman for NERC said the land would be marketed. It is already on a Government database, but will also be marketed to potential private buyers according to NERC.
Built in the 1970s, the lab was a world-class research centre until it closed. The four-storey building – known as the Joseph Proudman Laboratory Building – was used for research until 2005, when staff were transferred to new purpose-built premises at Liverpool university.
When it first applied for permission to demolish the building, a spokeswoman for NERC said the “historic” buildings on the site – including the observatory, cottages and lighthouse, which are all Grade II-listed – would survive.
A report accompanying the council decision to allow the demolition said an application to have the laboratory listed was turned down by English Heritage.