Walsall school expansion of four classrooms set for green light

The demolition of cottages to pave the way for a Walsall school to expand is expected to be given the go-ahead this week.

Queen Mary's High School wants to build a new teaching block with four new classrooms to cope with rising pupil numbers.

Walsall Council's planning committee is recommended to grant permission at a meeting on Thursday.

Under the plans, each classroom will support 30 pupils.

It will involve tearing down residential cottages in Lichfield Street after they were found not suitable for conversion.

Meanwhile, the annexe section of Foden house will also be demolished.

A report to the planning committee says: "The proposed scheme is to provide additional teaching space following an increase in pupil numbers.

"The block will provide four new general teaching classrooms, one ICT room and associated stores and facilities.

"A new plant room is proposed within the ground floor of Foden House.

"Each classroom will support 30 pupils, a teacher and an assistance."

According to the report, options had been explored to convert the two properties into classrooms but a feasibility study determined the building was not suitable for conversion due to the size and shape of the rooms and poor natural lighting.

Included in the new build is a link to Foden House which replaces the existing external fire escape.

Internal alterations to Foden House include the removal of internal walls to provide a larger classroom and access to the link and stairs at second floor and re-alignment of the corridor wall at first floor.

The report says: "A two storey temporary class which has already gained planning consent will allow for teaching space during construction.

"Foden House will be internally remodelled to suit teaching and ancillary needs."

The secondary school has 740 places, of which 150 places are for the sixth form.

The proposed new block will face Lichfield Road and is accessed via the schools main entrance on Upper Forster Street.

The original school building, which is grade II listed, was designed by local architect Edward Adams and was built in 1849.

The report states that the group of buildings which currently makes up Queen Mary's High School have evolved over time and contain a variety of structures of different ages and architectural merit.

The cottages were originally owned by the school and were converted to two flats in the 1980s.

They were leased to what is known as Accord Housing Association but in 2018 the Mercian Trust re-acquired these buildings as part of plans to expand the school.

The construction will be funded by the Education Funding Agency through the selective school expansion fund with additional funding being provided by the Mercian Academy Trust.

Planning officers have recommended that Walsall Council's planning committee grants permission subject to conditions, which includes an agreement to secure costs for four replacement trees.

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