Axed building to reborn as specialist college centre

Westbury Lodge in Blackpool is to be transformed into a sixth form centre

Westbury Lodge in Blackpool is to be transformed into a sixth form centre

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Work is underway to transform a redundant council building into a specialist sixth form centre for students with special needs.

The six-figure project includes the partial demolition and remodelling of the three-storey Westbury Lodge building in Blackpool.

This will be another feather in the cap

Designed by, Cassidy and Ashton, the 18-week project is being carried out by Eric Wright Special Projects, part of the Preston-based Eric Wright Group,

The project has been commissioned by Blackpool Council as part of the Local Education Partnership and will provide much-needed accommodation for students from nearby Park Community Academy and Woodlands Special School.

Work is expected to be finished by April and will accommodate up to 50 16-to-19-year-olds and include specialist facilities designed for profound complex learning difficulties and education needs, such as severe autism and other rare syndromes.

The building had previously been a children’s home before being converted into office space and remained empty until work began at the end of last year.

Blackpool Council’s cabinet secretary Coun Graham Cain, said: “The work taking place at Westbury Lodge not only allows us to re-use an old building that had been standing dormant but it will also increase the capacity for young people with special educational needs to continue learning after they’ve left secondary education.

“As the Government’s cuts really begin to bite hard, we need to make sure that every asset we own is contributing positively to the town’s future and I’m convinced that the solution for Westbury Lodge will do exactly that.

“Coupled with the brand new school at Highfurlong this will be another feather in the cap of our excellent special school provision in Blackpool.

He added; “The increase will be a big benefit to both Park and Woodlands Schools and will really benefit dozens more local children every year, allowing them to continue their education and go on to do their best in life.”

Alistair Baines, chairman at Cassidy and Ashton, said: “We’ve undertaken a number of SEN projects and are always proud to work on schemes of this type.

“The key to good design is creating a flexible and safe environment that facilitates outstanding learning opportunities, which build confidence and self esteem.”

Stephen Knowles, head of Eric Wright Special Projects, added: “Works of this nature require exceptional attention to detail and our extensive experience in education ensures that we’re able to meet the diverse needs of all those involved.

“The project will also mean that we’re a step closer towards achieving the Government’s aim in making England the best place in the world to grow up by 2020.”