War horse grave to be protected after land assigned for housing

  • Promises have been made that the grave of a famous war horse will be protected following news that the land the grave is located in is set to be redeveloped.

    The grave of ‘Blackie the war horse’, an equine hero who fought and survived the battles of the First World War, was given grade II listed status, which protected the site at the RSPCA centre in Halewood, Liverpool, in 2017. The charity has since announced the centre is set to close at the end of May.

    Blackie served at the battles of Arras, Somme, Ypres and Cambrai before returning to Britain where he lived into his late 30s. His was the first war horse grave to be granted heritage protection by Historic England after a member of the public contacted them with concerns that it was threatened by proposed building work.

    A spokesman for the RSPCA said the decision to close the centre was made because Knowsley Council had “redesignated the land” for residential development.

    But the council said the charity made the decision to close the branch due to financial reasons.

    “The site known as East of Halewood was allocated for residential development in 2016 when Knowsley’s local plan was adopted. The land occupied by the RSPCA was included in this. However, at the time, the council was advised that the RSPCA would remain on that site and it was not available for development. It has always been clear that if the site was vacated, it would be suitable for residential development as per the local plan policy.

    “This means that the land occupied by the RSPCA is now shown as available for development in the draft East of Halewood masterplan.”

    The spokesman said the draft masterplan includes proposals to “protect and enhance” Blackie’s grave.

    The timing of the development of the land is dependent upon developers bringing forward a proposal. A public consultation on the draft masterplan is running until 5pm on Wednesday 10 April for people to share their views www.consultations.knowsley.gov.uk.

    The RSPCA spokesman said the centre will continue to operate until the end of May.

    “The animals being cared for at the centre will then be moved to alternative RSPCA accommodation,” said the spokesman.

    “The trustees of the branch would like to thank supporters for their help over the years and reassure people that the day-to-day business of the branch will continue until the closure. They would also like to reassure people that in the future, animals at risk in the Liverpool area will still get the help they need and continue to be cared for at other RSPCA centres.”

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