School set for £8m revamp

Artist's impressions of the new �8m Unity College
Artist's impressions of the new �8m Unity College
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A BLACKPOOL school is set to get an £8m revamp – just two years after its building plans were scrapped.

Unity College Blackpool in North Shore has been handed the multi-million pound cash boost to radically remodel the site.

The scheme, which will soon go before town hall planning chiefs, include the building of a brand new primary school and construction of a futuristic glass entrance – as well as new drama, sports and dining facilities.

Just two years ago, the school’s hopes for a new building were left in tatters when the Government’s Building Schools For The Future scheme collapsed after funding was pulled due to financial constraints. Unity College, then called Beacon Hill High School, was promised a £15m rebuild as primary school facilities were brought on to site. Now with 1,000 pupils set to benefit from state-of-the-art facilities in the next four years – thanks to the Government’s Primary Capital Programme Basic Need funding – the Warbreck Hill Road school is looking forward to a bright new future.

Headteacher Barbara Lund said: “We’re thrilled with the designs, they perfectly capture the ethos of Unity College. We are unique in Blackpool as we offer education from nursery up to Year 11 and these plans really reflect our needs.

“It will link the different school buildings for the first time and allow us to build on our family atmosphere.

“The response from parents, staff and pupils has been really positive, it’s a very exciting time for the school.”

The proposals are expected to go before Blackpool Council’s planning committee in around 10 weeks’ time with the builders set to move in by July. The Unity College scheme is one of many school building projects ongoing on the Fylde coast.

The first phase of a £22.5m scheme at St Mary’s Catholic College in St Walburga’s Road is set to be completed at Easter.

By 2014, there will be a new sports hall, fitness gym, physiology laboratory, specialist science facilities, computer labs, a media studies suite and around 40 classrooms built into five learning houses.

Layton Primary School is undergoing a £3.5m revamp while Singleton Primary School’s new £500,000 hall was officially opened in September last year. Plans are also due to be lodged for a new £5m primary school on land at Baron Road, close to Seasiders Way, in South Shore.

And in Fleetwood, every primary school is currently undergoing some kind of building work after cash was splashed to improve the quality of educational facilities in the town.

Unity College has been welcoming primary age children on to site for four years but officially opened as a “through provision” school when it rebranded in September 2010.

Youngsters have been housed in temporary classrooms and crossing the site currently means going out of doors, often in poor weather.

The new work will be done in four stages. The primary building, to house reception to Year 2 children, will be built first at the back of the site. A new dining room and kitchen complex will also be built. This is expected to be finished in September next year.

The next step will be to build a new dance studio as an extension of the existing gym and theatre block. There will also be a major refurbishment throughout.

The block of classrooms housing children in Years 5 to 8 will also be updated. Building the futuristic looking two-storey glass frontage will come next and finally, the rest of the school will be substantially refurbished.

Mrs Lund added: “The new buildings will solve so many logistical problems. We work to ease the transition from primary to secondary school and having all the school linked together will consolidate the work we’ve been doing.

Residents were invited to view the plans at an open evening held at the school last week.

Ivan Taylor, cabinet member for education at Blackpool Council, today welcomed the project.

He said: “The plans for Unity College are very impressive.

“It is wonderful to see money being spent to improve the facilities for the children of North Shore.”