First public meeting discusses new school proposals

Proposals for a new 420-capacity primary school for the Beeston/Holbeck area were discussed at a lively public meeting today.

In the region of a dozen people attended the Hamara centre on Tempest Road for the first of three public meetings to discuss the possibility of a new school being built on the site of the now closed South Leeds Sports Centre.

The meeting kick-started a six-week public consultation which would look at whether people in the area were receptive to a new £4 million two-form entry school being built on the site and whether it was the right size to cater for rising demand in the area. The school could open in 2014.

The results from the consultation will be discussed in December by the council’s powerful executive board.

It emerged from the meeting that the school may not be a local authority one for legal reasons, and that invitations would be sought from community groups, faith schools and other interested parties to run it.

Although attendees seemed broadly in favour of the plans, some local residents expressed concern over the future of the sports fields at the back of the current centre and others said they wanted to retain sports facilities on the site. The possibility of both sports and school facilities – without the loss of green space – on the site was welcomed.

Some residents said that they would prefer a local authority school on the site – and that a nursery was essential.

One woman spoke of her concerns that the new school would have an adverse impact on existing schools in the area, such at St Francis of Assisi. But council officers said all school places in the area would still be needed even if the new school was built.

Local residents were urged to complete the public consultation questionnaire to have their say.

The next public meeting is tomorrow (Tuesday) at Tunstall Road Community Centre at 5.30pm and Wednesday at St Matthew’s Community Centre at 7.30pm.

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