New technology primary school set for historic Wolverhampton site

Plans to build a state-of-the-art technology learning centre on the site of a recently-demolished Wolverhampton primary school have been approved by the city council.

An artist's impression of how the new Wednesfield Technology Primary School in Lichfield Road will look. Image: Q+A Planning
An artist's impression of how the new Wednesfield Technology Primary School in Lichfield Road will look. Image: Q+A Planning

The 112-year-old former Edward the Elder building in Lichfield Road, Wednesfield, was bulldozed in June to make way for the new Wednesfield Technology Primary School.

Tom Hallett, acting on behalf of Birmingham-based developers Tilbury Douglas Construction Ltd, told Tuesday's planning committee: “The site has been in educational use for over 100 years, although the school had been left empty and in a derelict state since 2007.

“As you will be aware, work to demolish the former main school was completed during the summer and the application proposes to reinstate that longstanding use, providing a much-needed new facility for primary age children.

“The new school will be a member of the Shireland Academy Trust, who already operate several schools in the West Midlands. The school has been designed to inspire new ways of teaching, offering a specialised tehnology-based curriculum.”

“The development will deliver a range of benefits, including the creation of new jobs during both the construction phase and as part of the future occupation of the school with up to 45 full and part-time positions,” he added.

“The retention of the former lodge building will maintain an important link to the history of the site and will be used by the school as family hub. Additional landscape planting to enhance the site will provide diversity and ecology value.

“And of course this sees the redevelopment of a longstanding vacant brownfield site within a sustainable location ideally placed to serve the growing needs of the community.

“In response to comments made by highways and residents, some amendments have been made – the parking layout has been reconfigured to allow for a one-way circulation of cars around the parking area, along with the provision of a dedicated drop off/collection point.

“This will enable cars queuing to drop off and pick up in a very orderly manner within the site – and at peak times. The number of parking spaces has also been increased and CCTV will be installed.

“Financial contributions in the form of a pedestrian crossing and the reinstatement of the ‘keep clear’ markings outside the school will also be installed.”

The new building will incorporate a two-storey block with a single storey for the hall and kitchen. The design is Passivhaus – meaning it will achieve a very high level of energy efficiency, members were told.

Councillor Andy Randle said: “This is a great proposal which is welcome. It will be a good, modern facility that will benefit the people of Wednesfield. I have raised concerns regarding traffic at pick up and drop off times and the need to be mindful of pupil safety and nearby houses and businesses.

“I have asked that this be monitored and support offered to the school if necessary, so that the local impact of the school is positive and safety is paramount.”

Leader of the Conservatives Councillor Wendy Thompson added: “I think quite a few people in Wednesfield will have been sad to see the loss of the historic building that was there, and it is good to see the site now being used as it has been derelict for too long.

“Shireland has a very good reputation so I’m very hopeful that we’ll have some really high-quality education taking place there. Unfortunately the design is a little plain, but that is the modern style.

“The traffic is an issue but if there is monitoring of that, I think it would work. It’s wonderful to see the lodge being kept as that is a character building, and it’s good to see that some thought has been given to keeping red brickwork, rather than the dreary modern trend of having wooden cladding.

“I would also like to mention that it’s great to see a new primary school going onto the site – I’m sure it’s much-needed. But it may of course move on to secondary figures, so I hope that some thought is being given to those responsible for strategic planning with regard to education places.”

Councillor Phil Page said he thought the development would also contribute to the local shopping economy, and moved the report which was later seconded.

Although not listed, the landmark former structure – one of the city’s oldest school buildings – dated back to 1910. The date stone has been carefully removed and will be repositioned adjacent to the entrance of the new development.

The new facility will provide teaching spaces for 26 nursery children, 60 reception, 120 key stage 1 and 240 key stage 2.

All members voted in favour and the plans were approved subject to a unilateral undertaking and conditions. The new school is expected to open in September 2023.

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