A proposal to completely replace a brick-built primary school with “a much shorter life modular building” as part of a Department of Education schools rebuilding programme has been questioned by community leaders.
Catterick Parish Council has raised a range of concerns since the Department of Education unveiled plans to erect a 1,637sq m single storey building for Michael Syddall Primary School in Catterick Village.
Under unusual proposals to be considered by North Yorkshire Council, the new building is set to be built on the schools playing fields, with the existing school demolished, and that space reinstated as playing fields.
Planning documents submitted by the Department for Education, which selected the school as among the first 100 nationally to be rebuilt or have a major makeover, state the school’s approach is to offer teaching that is physically active in nature.
They state: “The school learns through activity during lessons as well as this being a major driver in the whole life of the school and is key to the well-being of the children and their mental and emotional health.
“The schools’ pedagogy is a physically active one –children will be active every 20/30 minutes no matter what lesson they are in.”
Catterick Bridge division councillor Carl Les, who is also a governor of the school, welcomed the proposal in principle, saying the buildings had reached the end of their life expectancy, resulting in an annual maintenance cost which took resources away from other school activities.
He said: “The school has grown over the years and is not the best design for operating a modern school.”
However, he said Catterick Parish Council had recognised that in moving the school building’s location it would be closer to the properties of neighbouring residents.
Residents of more than a dozen properties say their quality of life will be compromised and that the noise levels from the general school activities will be considerable while the height of the proposed school hall will cause loss of light for them.
Coun Les said he had questioned the Department of Education over whether a condition survey of the school had been undertaken to prove demolishing the existing building was the best option.
The government department also asked whether consideration had been given to providing temporary classrooms while the new school was built on the site of the old school so its location did not have to move.
Nevertheless, the Department of Education has replied that the questions could only be addressed as part of the planning process.
Commenting on the plans, a parish council spokesman questioned why a brick building was “being knocked down and replaced by a much shorter life modular building with a life span of only about 20 to 25 years”.
He said the parish council felt “the planned school has not been future-proofed and that a cheaper option is being suggested to save money now, but not in the long-term.”