Former Northumberland school site poised for new lease of life

A former school building in a Northumberland village is poised for a new lease of life.

Friday, 25th October 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Friday, 25th October 2019, 12:45 pm
The former St Mary's C. of E. VA Middle School in Belford.
The former St Mary's C. of E. VA Middle School in Belford.

Outdoor events organiser Culture Creative, currently based in Alnwick, is set to move into the former St Mary’s Middle School in Belford.

It has submitted a planning application to Northumberland County Council seeking permission for its change of use from education to office and storage.

The building has been redundant since the school closed in summer 2018 because of dwindling pupil numbers, partly caused by the Alnwick schools partnership’s move to a two-tier education system.

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A report submitted by Culture Creative as part of its change of use application states: ‘Split across three sites, the main Alnwick base has become too small for current and future operations, relying instead on short-term leased space, including storage and office space.

‘Wanting to stay in Northumberland the option to utilise 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.

‘Further, the school also has excellent highways access and parking but perhaps the most important points are that no works are required to the building and the surrounding playing fields are not required leaving them free for the local community.

‘As a result, this application is therefore seeking the change of use of the existing school buildings only, without any external alteration or change to the internal space, the site or surrounds.’

Culture Creative was established in 2004 and now employs eight people full-time. It is recognised as one of the leading producers of outdoor events working across art, sport, heritage, tourism, festivals and events.

Its client base includes Sony Music, The National Trust, Northumberland County Council, Kew Gardens, Forestry England, Northumberland National Park, Northumbrian Water Limited, English Heritage and Blenheim Palace.

The county council has previously identified a parcel of land within the school grounds as a potential site for a new cemetery. Belford Parish Council has expressed interest in the idea.