Councillors advised to approve rebuild plans for James Calvert Spence College in Amble
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Councillors have been advised to support plans to demolish James Calvert Spence College’s secondary school buildings on Acklington Road and replace them with new facilities nearer the middle school building.
Plans to renovate that building, located on South Avenue, have also been backed by planners ahead of a Strategic Planning Committee meeting on Tuesday, November 7.
The projects are part of a £39m county council investment in converting the school system in the area to the two-tier model, which is common across England.
In their report to councillors, planning officers said the projects are about “improving the teaching and learning environment” for pupils and creating “facilities that would also benefit the wider community.”
They added: “The redevelopment of the school meets planning policy principles on community provision and community well-being and can also be seen as an investment in the future of the Northumberland economy.”
The plans, if approved, will pave the way for Amble First School to relocate to the South Avenue site and absorb James Calvert Spence pupils up to age 11, creating a 210-place primary school.
A 26-place nursery and a 50-place satellite campus for Alnwick’s Barndale Special School, both with separate entrances, will also be set up in the renovated building under the plans.
Some outbuildings and an old caretaker’s cottage are also due to be demolished to make way for a 50-space car park, with current parking also maintained.
Planners said: “The general refurbishment and reuse of the buildings is to be welcomed in terms of sustainability and there are no concerns regarding these works in terms of design, scale or visual impact.”
The planned new secondary school is set to be located nearer the middle school, which planners agreed would be “more cohesive” than the current arrangement.
The proposals call for another new car park where the current building sits, including electric vehicle charging, for use by staff and members of the public visiting the planned sports facilities.
A new sports hall, grass and artificial outdoor pitches, and a multi-use games area are included in proposals, which will be available to all outside of school hours.
This involves the removal of the running track on the site, which had prompted calls for a new track to be included in the designs.
Planners acknowledged England Athletics’ calls for more facilities in the county but noted that Sport England had not objected to the plans for the school.
They said that the council and other relevant public bodies had not created an action plan to address the shortage of facilities, so it was not clear that a site in Amble was an “optimal location” for a running track.
They added: “The school was unable to commit to the management of any track as the proposed income would not create a viable business case.
“Even with the loss of the redundant redgra track, it is clear that the overall qualitative improvements to the school would compensate for this loss.”