Plans for former school site in Northumberland make step forward

The former St Mary's C of E Middle School in Belford.The former St Mary's C of E Middle School in Belford.
The former St Mary's C of E Middle School in Belford. | JPIMedia Resell
Plans to bring a redundant school building in a Northumberland village back into use have taken a step forward.

Culture Creative has received change of use consent from Northumberland County Council for the former St Mary’s C of E Middle School in Belford.

The outdoor events specialist plans to take on the premises on a ‘licence to occupy’ from the Newcastle Diocese (as property owners) whilst an application is made to the Department for Education for binding change of use.

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If the Department of Education approval is secured, Culture Creative will proceed with the purchase of the building from the Diocese.

Northumberland County Council officers are currently working with Culture Creative to provide a safe walking route to Belford Primary School through the grounds of the former Middle School.

The building has been empty since the school closed in summer 2018 because of dwindling pupil numbers.

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Culture Creative, in its application for change of use consent from a school to office and storage, reveals that its main Alnwick base has become too small for current and future operations, relying instead on short term leased space, including storage and office space.

It says the space within St Mary’s Church of England School meets the company’s needs perfectly including a mix of different rooms and spaces of varying sizes and existing office space which is perfect for the company’s operations.

Six employees would be based at the site, although it is hoped to increase this to a maximum of 10 in the coming years.

Future development may involve occupation of the former caretaker’s house but this will not take place prior to the completion of any sale.

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The parish council has requested that potential access to the rear of the site is retained where land has been identified for a possible cemetery.