Progress on extension to Alnwick’s new school

Progress on the new Duchesss Community High School.
Progress on the new Duchesss Community High School.

The planning application to extend Alnwick’s new school so it can become an 11-to-18 secondary school is currently with the county council.

The consultation period for the scheme, for a ‘proposed extension to new school and development of site for landscaping, sports and parking facilities’, ends next Wednesday (April 13), but so far no objections have been lodged.

The original artist's impression for the new Duchess's Community High School. The extension will add a fourth 'finger' to the building.

The original artist's impression for the new Duchess's Community High School. The extension will add a fourth 'finger' to the building.

The proposals will essentially add a fourth spur, or finger, to the spine of the building currently under construction at Greensfield, accessed from Willowburn Avenue.

As reported by the Gazette last month, the new Duchess’s Community High School as originally envisaged is ‘on track and on time’ to open its doors to students this September for the start of the new academic year.

The extension will expand the school from the current 1,115 by some 500 places to a secondary school catering for 1,615 pupils.

It was made necessary by the decision – controversial in some quarters – to switch to a two-tier system of primary and secondary schools in the Alnwick Partnership.

The proposal allows for construction of the new extension while the existing school remains in operation.

It would need to be ready by September 2017 for the arrival of Years 7 and 8 following the closure of the partnership’s four middle schools – three in Alnwick and one in Seahouses.

A planning statement says: ‘In addition to the educational facility for the students, community access has been integrated into the design.

‘Careful zoning of the building allows efficient use of the sports hall, dining, ICT areas and main hall to suit specific community needs and requirements’.

It concludes: ‘This application is for an extension to an existing building of educational and architectural significance. It will transform the delivery of learning in its student catchment area and will benefit a wider network of educational organisations across the Northumberland area.

‘The proposed design has been developed jointly with the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and the school to meet its vision and has also been subject to ongoing discussion with Northumberland planning officers to ensure good building design.

‘The rigorous approach has produced a proposal which will enhance the standard of The Duchess’s students’ education, improve the skills of the workforce and provide a genuine community and educational facility for generations to come’.