School plans in the spotlight

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THE future of two schools in line for major revamps will be discussed by council chiefs this week.

Dene Community School of Technology, in Manor Way, Peterlee, and Wellfield Community School, in North Road East, Wingate, are in line for redevelopments under the multi-million pound Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme.

Proposals for Dene Community School of Technology, which was built in the early 1960s, will be heard on Tuesday, during a meeting of Durham County Council’s planning committee.

Members are recommended to approve the plans, which include the construction of a two-storey building and part-demolition and alterations to existing buildings.

A report to the meeting says: “The school is in need of updating and adaptation to meet modern standards and requirements.”

The development includes the demolition of most of the older buildings, including the main three-storey block, the kitchen, dining hall and detached garage and part of the single-storey Millennium Block. The newer sports hall is to be kept and a new school block and energy centre would be built, along with refurbishment of the Millennium Block.

When complete, the school will cater for up to 740 pupils and 61 full-time teaching and support staff.

There have been no objections from residents, but Sport England objected on the grounds that the proposed development involves the loss of a playing field and the alternative playing field being proposed “does not match in quality or accessibility that which would be lost”.

Even if councillors approve the plans, the application needs to be referred to the Secretary of State for consideration due to the statutory objection from Sport England.

The Wellfield application is to be heard by the council cabinet on Wednesday.

A report to the meeting says: “The proposed scheme is a remodel of the existing school with a new façade to the entrance with better arrival arrangements for students, visitors and the community out-of-hours, and significantly better internal arrangements within the school itself.

“The building was the subject of a major scheme completed in 1995 which included the construction of new accommodation as well as the partial remodelling and refurbishment of existing facilities.

“The premises are therefore in fair condition, but certain areas do not meet current educational standards, and there are accessibility problems which need to be addressed.”