Council ‘naive’ to allow free demolition of school building

Issue 718

COUNCIL chiefs were accused of being “naive” over the demolition of a much-loved Cleckheaton school building.

Spen Valley Civic Society claims that contractor Laing O’Rourke offered to dismantle the Foundation Building at Whitcliffe Mount School free of charge.

In return, they will get the “rubble”, which the society thinks backs their arguments for saving it.

The society tried to get the building listed when plans for a new school elsewhere on the site were announced.

But their bid failed and Kirklees then secured an order blocking further attempts at saving the building.

Society secretary Erica Amenda said: “All that will be left after demolition is a grass verge.

“The council says that demolishing the Foundation Building is financially necessary. They are also happy that Laing O’Rourke has offered to demolish it ‘free’ in return for the building’s materials.

“We consider this naive – a commercial company would only make such an offer if it could profit from it.

“The Civic Society is of the view that the building’s materials are worth a great deal.

“At a time of financial adversity, the council should be looking to make best use of assets, not give them away.

“And we think the council is acting irresponsibly by not investigating alternative uses for the building.”

One use could be housing – and the society highlighted to Kirklees other schemes where old school buildings were turned into flats.

Erica added: “Kirklees Council is under pressure to increase the supply of housing sites in its district. Its new draft Local Plan is having to use green belt sites in the Spen Valley for housing in order to fulfil its housing quota.

“Recycling the Foundation Building for housing would contribute to the housing stock as it is a sustainable location within easy reach of Cleckheaton town centre services and transport connections.”

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