Councillors are set to approve spending almost £7 million at Cockburn School in Beeston to accommodate an additional 60 students from September.
Next Wednesday (24 June 2020) Leeds City Council’s Executive Board will discuss a report which proposes creating the extra space at Cockburn School by building a modular block of ten classrooms and transferring land for extra playing field space.
The additional space at Cockburn is required because of Government delays to building the new Laurence Calvert Academy on the site of the former Middleton Park High School. The new school was originally scheduled to open in September 2019, but is now not likely to open until 2022 at the earliest.
In February we reported on a campaign by parents whose children faced long journeys across Leeds to high school due to the shortage of secondary school places in South Leeds. Leeds City Council worked with the Cockburn Multi Academy Trust (MAT) to create extra capacity at Cockburn to resolve the issue.
The new three storey block will include two science laboratories, seven classrooms and an ICT suite. The block will be built on existing hard standing which is currently used for PE.
The plans also include the transfer of land, owned by the council, which was formerly part of South Leeds Golf Club to the school. This will be used to reprovide hard sports courts and create a new full size grass football pitch.
The land to be transferred amounts to 3 hectares, or 7.4 acres. The land would be levelled and the report describes this work as “challenging” due to the site levels which vary by as much as 7m. It will also involve the removal of over 30 mature trees, each tree removed will be replaced by three new trees.
The project is to be split into two phases. The first phase comprises the construction of the new classrooms and various works to outdoor sports area on the existing school site. The cost of the first phase is projected to be £5,468,100.
The second phase, programmed for next financial year, 2021-22, will see the new football pitch and sports courts built on the former golf club land. The cost of this work will be £1,366,900.
The report implicitly recognises that the second phase of the project is more contentious, stating that planning permission will be sought for each phase separately “to ensure that the teaching accommodation required is in place for September 2020.”
According to the plans accompanying the report, access to the construction site will be via the lane that runs between the school and Beeston Park Boarding Kennels & Cattery. Existing hard standing next to the 3G football pitch will be used for the compound and then extended to create a new 50 space car park. The lane, including the old cobbled footpath which runs into Middleton Park, will be incorporated into the school site as part of the phase 2 proposals with the existing public right of way diverted around the new pitch across the former golf course.