South Leeds Sports Centre: Primary school plans move forward

South Leeds Sports Centre in Beeston, before closure almost two years ago

Plans to build a new primary school on land occupied by the increasingly derelict South Leeds Sports Centre are moving a step closer to reality with the council set to choose the consortium to run it.

Senior councillors will meet next week to discuss proposals to open a 420-place primary school – and a report recommends that they choose charitable trust The Learning Trust South Leeds (made up of the governing bodies of Cockburn School and five local primary schools) to run the new facilities.

The new school will be built to meet increasing demand in the area and is due to open in 2014. The council invited bids from (mostly private) providers to run the schools. The report says:

“The Learning Trust South Leeds is recommended as the preferred bidder for the South Leeds school. It has good local knowledge, a good track record, and links to the teaching school. They bring the strongest local accountability with a unique bid for a non-academy proposal, and displayed a passionate commitment to local collaboration.”

There are three other bidders – The Academies Enterprise Trust; Rainbow Schools Trust and Lilac Sky Schools.

Protesters at the potential site of the new school earlier this year

There’s still hope that sports provision – including a swimming pool – could be included on the site following a concerted campaign by local residents and the SPLASHBACK campaign.

But the report fails to offer anything concrete that the sports facilities will be re-opened to the public and points to a lack of cash as a major issue.

It says:

“The bidders for South Leeds all indicated their willingness to work with the authority to deliver sporting provision on the site. Academies Enterprise Trust indicated they have some expertise in managing such provision. None offered capital contributions towards such provision.

“At present no viable bids have been received for separate sporting provision to be co-located on the site, and there is no new council funding identified for new sports provision on the site.

“The authority have committed that the current users will continue to have access to sports pitches when the new school is built.”

The full report, which also discusses plans for a new primary school for East Leeds – can be read here:

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The council’s executive board meets next Wednesday at Leeds Civic Hall at 1pm. The meeting is open to the public.

Last week South Leeds Life revealed how Splashback campaigners were considering mounting a community bid to take over the building, which closed in November 2010 due to escalating costs, council budget cuts and lower attendances.

A previous community-led bid to take over the centre was scuppered by a lack of cash in 2010.