Go-ahead for £20m new schools project

An artists impression of the proposed new South Shore Academy
An artists impression of the proposed new South Shore Academy
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Plans to replace two Blackpool schools with state-of-the-art facilities as part of a multi-million pound project have been approved.

Councillors voted unanimously to back proposals for a new school at Hawes Side Academy, on Pedder’s Lane, South Shore, as well as the building of a three-storey school and sports hall at South Shore Academy.

Work on both developments, estimated to cost a total of £20m, is expected to start in March, and should be completed by summer 2017.

Funding for the new building scheme is from the Government’s multi-million pound Priority School Building Programme, which replaced Labour’s Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme after it was cancelled.

Despite concerns from planning committee chairman Coun David 
Owen about the plans being “bland”, and questions being raised about each building’s life-span, Sarah Humber, from the Education Funding Agency, which is supporting the schools bid, urged members to take advantage of the programme.

She added: “This is a brilliant opportunity for South Shore and Hawes Side to benefit from energy efficient buildings and for schoolchildren to work in better and safer environments.

“The schools are of a very good quality.”

Hawes Side Academy will have a new two-storey school, with outside learning areas, a games court and new car parking.

The proposals will see the construction of new classrooms at the Pedder’s Lane-based school followed by the demolition of existing buildings which date back to the 1930s.

South Shore Academy will benefit from classrooms on the first floor and science labs and art rooms on the second floor, while the new school 
will also have its own sports hall, to remove the academy’s reliance on the facilities at Palatine Leisure Centre. The existing school will be demolished and a visitor and staff car park created on the site.

Blackpool Coun Andrew Stansfield said: “We have two schools planned with excellent design features – we should consider ourselves fortunate.”

Coun Pam Jackson added: “I accept it is very functional, but I believe a lot of teachers will be pleased about having a new building to work in.”