Major plans for former school site

MAJOR plans to transform a former school site have been backed by senior councillors.

Hartlepool Borough Council is looking to revamp the former Brierton school site, off Brierton Lane, by demolishing part of the lower site, relocating services and building a new 3G sports pitch at a total cost of almost £2m.

New houses look set to be built on land which used to house the top site, which has recently been demolished, with funding from the land sale helping to pay for the regeneration of the wider site, which will include several other sports pitches.

Meanwhile, the Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) and Education Development Centre (EDC), both currently based at the Golden Flatts site at Seaton Lane, could also relocate within the existing school building on the lower part of the site with training and conference areas.

There is also long-term proposals to build a £5m 25m swimming pool and possibly relocate Catcote School and Springwell School.

The current council-run sports centre will be retained and kitchen facilities at the school site will be used for the council’s in-house catering team, rather than Golden Flatts Primary School.

The cabinet committee discussed a range of options and members backed the preferred option which included relocating the PRU and EDC, the sports pitches and creating a community cafe.

The total cost is £1,999,800 and that includes £254,000 on construction costs for the PRU, £302,000 for construction costs for the EDC, £592,000 on demolition including two wings of the lower site and £600,000 on the new 3G sports pitch.

The former top site land and the EDC site at Golden Flatts will both be marketed.

Graham Frankland, assistant director resources, said: “We have to self-fund our aspirations by selling property assets.”

Senior councillors gave their backing but independent councillor Cath Hill did say people would ask why the PRU, which used to be based at the Brierton site, was relocated only to be brought back.

Coun Hill said: “The PRU was up at Brierton before, people will ask what on earth we are doing as it looks like the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.

“Somewhere along the line there has been a waste of money.”

In response, chief executive Dave Stubbs said the council had also spent money revamping the Brierton site to accommodate pupils during the wider Building Schools for the Future programme but said they could not have second guessed the scheme would collapse.

He said the strategy has changed and the authority now needs the money from the sale of the top Brierton site and EDC site to fund the new developments.

Officers have included a footprint in the plans for the new swimming pool and for a new Catcote School, both of which are subject to future funding being secured.

John Mennear, assistant director of community services, said there were no guarantees but the council was “hopeful” there may be some Olympic legacy funding initiatives that they could benefit from in the future, because this strategy is in place.

The recommendations will now go to full council early next year.