THE future of a historic Wirral building still hangs in the balance after a move to have it listed as a heritage site saw demolition plans put on hold.

Councillors agreed to defer the decision over the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory when they met on Tuesday night at Wallasey Town Hall.

The authority’s ruling cabinet had been expected to approve proposals to knock down the 1970s building after current leaseholders the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) struggled to find someone to take over the contract.

However a late application from the Bidston Preservation Trust to English Heritage to have the Proudman listed as a Grade II building meant members were forced to wait until later in the year.

It means that the Wirral Taiko Dragon Drummers, who wanted to use the site as a centre for their activities, now have more time to put a business plan together.

Councillor Adrian Jones, cabinet member for corporate resources, said it was important the council waited until English Heritage had made their decision.

He told the meeting: “If we are going to hang on for English Heritage, it will give organisations enough time to get their acts together and be able to say whether they can get enough money to put something meaningful forward.

“It seems to me that we will be taking a big risk if we don’t defer this decision until September.”

The four-storey building on the site, known as the Joseph Proudman Laboratory Building, was used for research purposes until 2005 when staff were transferred to new purpose-built premises at the University of Liverpool.

However it is proving "very expensive to maintain" for NERC and they believe that the "most effective course of action" would be demolition, according to cabinet documents.

As a result the Taiko Drumming Centre (TDC) want to take over the building for the unique activity which is believed to have therapeutic benefits for disabled children.

And Peter Crawford, chairman of both the Bidston Preservation Trust and Wirral Taiko Dragon Drummers, said it was “brilliant” news that the outcome had been delayed.

He said: “I have meetings lined up to put together a proper business plan for the building and we have had a lot of interest from other community groups who would want to get involved.

“I have heard that residents near to the site have expressed concern about the noise from the drums but we have plans to hold the sessions in the basement which would be sound-proofed. We want to hold other activities in the rest of the building so we wouldn’t want the noise to interfere with them.

“This is not just about making a banging noise – Taiko drumming is excellent for people with physical and mental disabilities and it would be a great asset to the local community.”

A further report is expected to go before cabinet in September when it is hoped a decision will be made.

Correction: A picture alongside a story about the above planning row in today’s edition of the Globe unfortunately depicts the famous Bidston Observatory and not the Proudman Labs. Sorry for this confusion. Editor.