Sunderland school to be rebuilt and expanded under £6.9million programme to create more places

A Wearside primary school is set to be rebuilt and expanded and two more schools are to get extensions.

Thursday, 19th September 2019, 10:04 am
Willow Fields Community Primary School, Sunderland.

This week, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet agreed to invest millions of pounds to increase capacity at three city schools.

Under the plans, Willow Fields Primary School in North Sunderland could be relocated and rebuilt on the former Maplewood School site, off Redcar Road, Redhill.

The school is currently in need of major repair works and has limited capacity with an admission number of only 20 children in each year group.

Cabinet member for children, learning and skills, Coun Louise Farthing

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New plans aim to increase the overall capacity from 210 to 315 places with a new build planned for completion in 2021.

Benedict Biscop Primary Academy and St Paul’s CE VC Primary School are also in line for improvements – with extension works set to create an extra 210 places.

Council costs for the three proposals, which were included in the council’s capital spending budget earlier this year, are £6.9million.

The works aim to meet growing demand for school places, particularly in the city’s South Sunderland Growth Area where there are several housing developments under way and more due.

Cabinet secretary and governor at Willow Fields Primary School, Coun Paul Stewart

Cabinet member for children, learning and skills, Coun Louise Farthing, outlined the plans to cabinet on Tuesday September 17.

“The Maplewood site offers superior outdoor facilities and will accommodate a school building with greater capacity,” she said,

“This will be required in order to meet the needs of new housing developments both in progress and planned in North Sunderland.

“Works are also needed to increase the sufficiency of school places in the South Sunderland Growth Area which will contribute to the overall education infrastructure required to support all the new homes currently being developed in the area.

“All these works are about contributing to this council’s strategy of ensuring there are sufficient, suitable, high quality school places for pupils in safe and health buildings.”

Coun Farthing added:”I have visited Willow Fields Primary School, they have a relatively new headteacher there and the facilities are very poor,” she said.

“They were taking me to places where they were having to deal with leaks from the roof.

“Rather than patching up a building that isn’t suitable for use, given the number of children who are needing education in that locality, I’m really happy that we have the facilities to build a new school.

“I would like to say thank you to officers for organising this, it’s no mean feat bringing together the funding that is required.”

Cabinet member for communities and culture, Coun John Kelly, also said the investment would give young people the “best start in life.”

Works at Willow Fields Primary School are estimated at £4.942 million and also include nursery provision, a multi-use games area and sports pitch.

While St Paul’s CE VC Primary School and Benedict Biscop Primary Academy are set to cost £975,000 and £1.025 million respectively.

Following the cabinet decision, a consultation process will take place around plans for Willow Fields and St Pauls CE.

This includes a six week pre-publication consultation from October 1 and a further four-week period to gather feedback.

Coun Paul Stewart, the city council’s cabinet secretary, is the chairman of the governors at Willow Fields Primary School.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “I’m sure parents will be overjoyed about moving from out of our old building to a new building with state-of-the-art facilities .

“I would also add that this new school cannot come soon enough.”