School proposals on show to the public

Members of the public attend the presentation of the new high-school proposals.
Members of the public attend the presentation of the new high-school proposals.

Designs for the new high school in Alnwick were unveiled to the public this week, ahead of the submission of a planning application.

Residents and parents of pupils were able to take a look at the proposals for the rebuild of the Duchess’s Community High School, to be sited at Greensfield to the south of the town, at the public-consultation event on Tuesday night.

Representatives of Miller Construction, which won the contract to build all 12 schools in the North East being funded through the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP), were on hand to explain the proposals and answer questions.

Those who attended were also asked to fill out response forms sharing their views, but on the night, the reaction seemed largely positive.

It was also confirmed that a planning application should be lodged with Northumberland County Council before the end of the month.

As reported in the Gazette last month, construction on the long-awaited new school could start before the end of this year, as the scheme shifts into top gear.

The contract award meant that a start date for building in Alnwick has been set for between December this year and February 2015. This would mean a final handover of the new school in August 2016 for the start of the academic year that September.

Headteacher Maurice Hall described it as ‘exciting times’ as the school looks ahead to a new, purpose-built building with everything on one site, having long dealt with the split between premises on Howling Lane and Bailiffgate.

It has been a long road to this point and it was more than two years ago – May 2012 – that Education Secretary Michael Gove announced that the Duchess’s was one of 261 schools across the country which would be rebuilt through the PSBP.

At the consultation on Tuesday night, a Miller Construction representative told the Gazette that the response had been largely positive with around 70 people having turned up by 6pm (the event ran from 4pm to 7pm).

Three residents of Fuller’s Walk, who have concerns about access from Weaver’s Way to the proposed homes at Greensfield, were pleased the school is to be accessed from Willowburn Avenue.

One said: “The area needs a new high school, there’s no doubt about that and we won’t even see it because the land dips down.”