Ex-school site in Alnwick set for £.1.2m adult learning investment

Plans for a £1.2million investment on the former Lindisfarne school site in Alnwick are set to be agreed by Northumberland County Council.

Tuesday, 4th June 2019, 16:21 pm
County councillors Robbie Moore and Gordon Castle and Lynda Wearn at the school site.

The aim is to create a modern Adult Learning Centre and Community Campus.

Before May 2017 the Middle School and Sports Hall had been approved for demolition and were due to be sold for housing.

However, there was strong opposition from the local community and when the new administration was formed, officers were asked to shelve the demolition plans and retain the site.

Consultation over the future of the site has continued over the past two years with the local community through the Alnwick Forum - a partnership between the county and town council.

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The county council has already committed to retaining the school playing fields and through the forum, the council set up a user group to explore transferring the sports hall to the town council to run it for the benefit of local clubs and community groups.

Feedback for potential uses for the remainder of the site overwhelmingly favoured creating a Community Campus anchored by the council’s Learning and Skills Service which is already operating from the site, albeit in poor quality facilities.

Now the plan is that Learning and Skills Service will be based in the annexe buildings which will be fully refurbished, while the existing community organisations will also have the opportunity to move across. This will include the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Alnwick food bank.

The annexe also contains a multi-purpose hall that can be let out on a casual use basis for a variety of local community activities.

If approved by the council’s cabinet, work could get underway in November this year and be complete by July 2020.

Coun Wayne Daley, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Providing the best education for everyone is an absolute priority and this is a major investment in our skils service provision.

“The work will see the service have a new home in modern, fit-for-purpose facilities and also give much improved space for the various community groups who use the site.”

Alnwick county councillors Gordon Castle and Robbie Moore said: “This has been an evolving picture with the community behind the direction we are moving in.

“It is important to keep these playing fields available for sport and recreation and to develop the campus to fit existing and future needs. The newer part of the school building is not required and can be removed once we have redeveloped and modernised the older, original buildings.

“The public will be kept well informed as this goes forward, but some disruption must be expected for a period.”

Alnwick Mayor Linda Wearn added: “I am pleased the future of the site is now much clearer and that the annexe is to be refurbished to create an education and community campus. This will be very beneficial and be a much needed town facility.”

It is intended that the remaining old school buildings will be demolished to reduce ongoing running costs. Initially the space created can be used for on-site parking with the potential to expand the community campus with an appropriate new build development in the future.