The largest Free School in the country has been approved by the government in the city centre to the south of the river, in what promoters hope will become a truly sustainable community.
It is hoped the new school will be a significant catalyst for the transformation of this area, as part of a mix of family housing, green park-land, new employment, community and leisure facilities, all in the heart of the city.
The Ruth Gorse Academy created in a partnership between the Gorse Academies Trust and the Leeds Sustainable Development Group aims to deliver educational ‘excellence’ to secondary students, up to the age of 19. The secondary school, which will form the first phase of development, will cater for around 1,500 students and have a Post-16 Centre of Excellence in Mathematics and Applied Mathematics.
Backers of the new school are not saying where it will be located, but South Leeds Life understands that they will be refurbishing an existing building, rather than building from scratch.
The Ruth Gorse Academy’s admissions policy will be centred on direct proximity to the school, serving new housing once it is built as well as the wider city centre and south Leeds communities. Leeds faces a shortage of school places which is predicted to reach 11,000 by 2015.
Peter Connolly Managing Director of Yorkshire Design Developments commented:
“For those of us that have been working to regenerate south of the river, we have always been stuck with the chicken and egg argument; you can’t build family houses and develop a community without good school facilities. Now we will have them and along with the new park being created by Leeds City Council, the area will be transformed. The years of behind the scenes work has paid off and a new spirit is alive in Leeds South Bank with The City College opening its doors this September. The south bank area has in the past been the beating heart of Leeds Industry so it’s great to see the area on the move and this piece of Leeds being put back into the Leeds jigsaw.”
David Lumb Coordinator of the Leeds Sustainable Development Group said:
“The southern part of Leeds City Centre between the River Aire and the motorways (City Centre South) has tremendous development potential. There are some 210 acres (85 hectares) of vacant or under-utilised sites and premises which could accommodate some 8-12,000 new residential units on brownfield land. Significant investment in social infrastructure such as schools, health centres and community facilities is vital to the creation of a sustainable urban community in this area.
“By providing a critically important part of this infrastructure, the proposed Ruth Gorse Academy will encourage city dwellers in their twenties and thirties to remain within the urban core, and entice new long-term residents with families to move to this highly accessible area We have created a unique opportunity with the Free School movement to make a significant difference to the next generation of children in Leeds. We would urge all those interested in the Ruth Gorse Academy, including parents, businesses and community members alike to register their support.”