Extension plans for academy get go-ahead

A secondary school in Wolverhampton has been given permission to build four extra classrooms, a new changing room and an extension to its dining room – which will result in the creation of 16 new jobs.

A view showing the entrance to the dining room and lobby at St Edmund's Catholic Academy in Compton Park. Photo: CBP Architects
A view showing the entrance to the dining room and lobby at St Edmund's Catholic Academy in Compton Park. Photo: CBP Architects

St Edmund’s Catholic Academy, in Compton Park, was identified by the Local Education Authority (LEA) as being suitable for expansion, with total pupil numbers estimated to reach 1,170 by 2025.

The school, which caters for youngsters aged 11-18, already has 995 pupils – 100 more than the building was designed for.

Wolverhampton Council planning committee this week unanimously agreed to approve the expansion plans.

Head of planning Stephen Alexander told members that Transportation had expressed concerns about the impact of the proposed development on the highways network, and had made a number of recommendations which had been included in the travel plan for the site.

Councillor Martin Waite said: “I just wanted to pick up on the travel plan as I have looked at Transportation’s recommendations. I’m wondering whether or not we ought to go a little bit further on what has been submitted.

“For instance, around active travel it just talks about if you’re within five kilometres of the school then that’s cycling distance. But there’s no mention of anything like secure cycle parking.

“If you’ve got quite an expensive bike – or especially an electric bike – then where’s that going to be stored? Is it still going to be there at the end of school?

“I know at Highfields in Merry Hill ward cycle parking at the front is not used so much because people kept having their bikes stolen.

“Secondly, I’d like to see a commitment from the school to doing some sustained promotion of active transport. So not just ‘yes, we’ll agree to this’ to get it through the planning committee, and then it’s never mentioned again.

“I really would like to see that added in those conditions if possible,” he added.

Mr Alexander said: “Those are very good points and they can be addressed in the conditions. What I will do is ensure the travel plan is amended so that I’m happy with it and Transportation are happy with it prior to the development being brought into use.”

A design and access statement, drawn up by CBP Architects and submitted with the the plans, said: “The additional floor areas will include four new classrooms within a two-storey extension, enlarging the existing dining area and an additional changing room.

“Each area will be created by extending the existing main school building in three separate locations. The architecture will be contemporary in style and in keeping with the existing buildings.”

The academy moved to the present site, previously owned by the University of Wolverhampton, in 2013 when it received Building Schools for the Future funding, which was used for new teaching and sports amenities.

The recommendation to approve the application was moved by Councillor Phil Page subject to the conditions referred to by Councillor Waite, who seconded the plans.

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