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Portable classrooms at fire-hit school still need planning permission

Pupils and staff have been working out of temporary portacabin-style classrooms at Leyland St Marys Catholic Technology College since a blaze destroyed most of the school site in September

Pupils and staff have been working out of temporary portacabin-style classrooms at Leyland St Marys Catholic Technology College since a blaze destroyed most of the school site in September

Planning permission has not yet been granted for ‘portable classrooms’, a drama studio, library, and other ‘temporary’ facilities being used for nine months at a fire-hit high school.

Pupils and staff have been working out of temporary portacabin-style classrooms at Leyland St Mary’s Catholic Technology College since a blaze destroyed most of the school site in September.

Nine months on, plans have only just been submitted for the temporary facilities, which also include changing rooms and showers.

Headteacher Kathy McNicholas, who is on personal leave at the moment, has submitted a retrospective planning application to Lancashire County
Council.

The proposal relates to temporary classroom blocks, a staff room, library, drama studio, changing rooms, toilets and showers, an access road from the car park, storage containers, a topsoil ‘bund’ and security fencing at the Royal Avenue site.

A spokesman from architectural and planning consultancy practice, Cassidy and Ashton, which is also behind the project to rebuild the school, explains that it was necessary for the work to be done as soon as possible, so some students could return to school two weeks after the fire.

The rest of the pupils, who were working from a vacant school site in Preston, returned just before Christmas.

Lawrence McBurney told the Guardian: “The temporary accommodation has evolved over the months.

“At first it was just the classrooms, but extra accommodation was needed, such as the staff room and library.

“The council was happy for it all to be installed at the site before the retrospective application was submitted.

“It was a rolling programme, and we were in contact with Lancashire County Council and South Ribble Council.”

The retrospective planning application reads: “This application seeks to formalise many of the essential transitional works undertaken on site which have ensured that pupils have returned to full time education.

“It is the intention of the school to construct a new main school building within the site, on the footprint of the buildings which were destroyed by the fire.

“However in the interim period a range of temporary buildings and associated facilities have been positioned to the west of the site.

“These works have successfully allowed the school to operate and remain open in difficult times.”

The borough council has now granted permission for the main development the school.

The planning committee last month voted in favour of the scheme, and the council’s planning officers had recommended the project be approved, but an eleventh hour objection from the Environment Agency was put forward over flood risk concerns.

It was advised that the committee ‘be minded to approve the application’, and the case has now been determined by the chairman of the committee and the council’s planning manager, following further discussions with the Environment Agency.

The plan is to re-build 3,530m² of new buildings to provide new facilities, creating new science and technology departments, extended dining areas, car parks and outdoor spaces.

The existing frontage will be enhanced and there will also be a new main entrance, landscaping and two secure courtyard areas for socialising and outdoor teaching.

The job is out to tender at the moment, and it is hoped the building work will start this summer and be complete by September next year.

 

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