Blackpool school set to be demolished

The old Bispham High School will be flattened next month.

Thursday, 15th December 2016, 9:47 am
Updated Thursday, 15th December 2016, 11:22 am
Vandals have targeted the old Bispham High School site in recent months

Demolition crews will move onto the site, in Bispham Road, during the first week of January, with work set to take around four months and cost around £350,000.

The school buildings, which have become magnets for vandals in recent months, will be razed to the ground to make them safe, but there are no concrete plans for what will replace them.

Talks to demolish the empty school, which housed Aspire Academy until its move to new facilities in nearby Blackpool Old Road last year and is now dilapidated, were held in October.

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Fires have been set and damage has been caused on the site

Just days earlier, arsonists set fire to abandoned gym equipment inside it, while youngsters could be seen inside the grounds on several occasions, with the council saying ‘damage and disruption’ had been caused by numerous trespassers.

Police received several calls from neighbouring homes, including two in one night, when youths were spotted climbing on the roof at 7pm, before a bin was torched close to the sports hall at 9.20pm, a spokesman for Lancashire Police said.

“The former Bispham High School was until December 2015 utilised as a temporary facility for Aspire Academy, while that school was having a new school constructed on the old Collegiate High School site,” council papers said.

“Since this date the school has remained unoccupied and is now falling into a state of disrepair. During this period, the council has had to manage and fund the premises and grounds, and ensure they are kept safe and secure.

The school has been empty since Aspire Academy moved last year

“There have been a number of instances over recent months where trespassers have entered the building causing damage and disruption. As a result of this, the council has had to increase the number of security patrols which is resulting in increased costs.”

One consideration is the number of school places, though the town’s long term needs will be met when the Fylde Coast Academy Trust (FCAT) opens a new school in Lytham Road, South Shore, on the site of the old Arnold school, in 2018, papers add.

The council said it would retain ownership of the land, though a proposed use has not been identified.

To date, around £60,000 has been spent securing and maintaining the site, documents also revealed, which business rates cost the council an extra £99,000 per year.

Fires have been set and damage has been caused on the site

Aspire, formed when Collegiate and Bispham schools merged following dwindling pupil numbers, moved into its new £14m premises last November, marking theend of a three-year-long journey which started at the end of 2012.

Collegiate had seen its pupil numbers fall to below 500 - down from more than a thousand a decade ago - while Bispham had around 870 pupils.

Work on the new school began in 2014, with students making trips to see their new classrooms take shape.

The original stained glass panels from Blackpool Grammar School were also fitted at the new site.

The school has been empty since Aspire Academy moved last year