Demolition of an existing twentieth century sixth form building at the Knaresborough school was proposed in consultation documents submitted to Harrogate Borough Council.
This would be replaced with a new two-storey centre to increase the number of places available for pupils.
“Common sense” is needed when looking at the existing building said Carl Sugden, Headteacher at King James’s School, as the number places needed for the district looks set to rise.Mr Sugden said: “While a lot of buildings have heritage there comes a point where we need to practice some common sense.“With the condition of the interior of this one we are looking at something that is beyond repair.“It potentially could cost more public money repairing it than is justifiable.” He added: “We have capacity issues here with the amount of housing that is planned for the area. We could create a more flexible space while addressing this.“Even if we could address current issues at the existing building we would not be creating space like that. “We are aware of issues in the planning process but we are convinced we are trying to do the right thing.”
Unsuitable conditions at the existing building were flagged in a report produced by NY Property Services Ltd on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council, who are leading development of the plans.Classrooms were found to be too small to accommodate full-sized classes and fire safety routes from the upper floor were described as unsatisfactory.
An estimate for maintenance work in order to bring the roof up to standard was also quoted at Â£380,000.
However the ‘historic interest and strong community significance’ of the building was raised by Harrogate Borough Council planners when outlining objections.The building was said to be ‘worthy of conservation’, falling within 100m of the town’s Conservation Area and features on Knaresborough Town Council’s Draft Neighbourhood plan as a non-designated heritage asset.
The report states: “Harrogate Borough Council strongly objects to the proposal as submitted on the basis of impact upon the non-designated heritage asset as the impact of demolition is the most severe form of harm to a non-designated heritage asset as significance will be completely removed.”
Planners also found that not enough evidence was put forward to argue against repairs being possible, including the fact the building remains in use.If approved the plans would also see two temporary classroom units demolished, along with other additions built.This wouldinclude three pedestrian crossings, bin store and cycle shelter. The school’s car park would be re-arranged, allowing 58 spaces to be provided.The council said a date for the development would depend on planning approval.
A spokesperson for North Yorkshire County Council said: “We are currently reviewing the responses that have been made to the planning consultation and assembling additional information required. “The timescale for development on site depends on the date of the planning approval.”