Updated: Councillor hits out as Yorkshire schools £100m construction programme put on hold

THE FIRST major school building programme to be launched in Yorkshire since Building Schools for the Future was axed five years ago has been put on hold because one of the sites is subject to a listed building application.

Carlton Bolling College in Bradford. One of the school sites where the project is now on hold. Photo: Ross Parry.

The £100m scheme will see seven schools in West Yorkshire being rebuilt under the Department for Education’s Priority Schools Building programme - aimed at the buildings in the worst condition.

However work is now on hold because of a bid to give listed building status to part of one of the schools involved: Oakbank in Keighley.

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The Department for Education has said they expected a decision would be made quickly.

However Bradford Council, where four of the seven of schools affected are based, has critised the department over the delay.

The application was made for Haggas House, a Victorian built stone building which is set to be demolished as part of the work planned.

A Department for Education (DfE) spokeswoman said; “Works on schools being rebuilt under PSBP in the Yorkshire area are temporarily suspended to address the impact of a Historic England listing decision at Oakbank School.

“We are working closely with the developer to mitigate any effects.”

The seven schools in the PSBP Yorkshire batch are All Saints Catholic College in Huddersfield; Beckfoot Upper Heaton school - formerly Belle Vue Boys’, in Bradford; Carlton Bolling College in Bradford; Harrogate High School, Oakbank School; Samuel Lister Academy, near Bingley; and Whitcliffe Mount Business and Enterprise College in Cleckheaton.

Work has stopped Beckfoot Upper Heaton school and Samuel Lister Academy in Cottingley, where building started earlier this year ahead of a planned September 2016 opening date.

The DfE spokesman said that a decision on whether Oakbank School would be given listed building status was expected soon.

Oakbank’s headteacher David Maxwell has said previously that work at the school site had been expected to begin around Christmas time.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council’s executive member for education, skills and culture, said: “I am very concerned that suddenly Government has halted the Priority Schools Buildings projects in Bradford just because of a question mark over the Heritage listing of one small building on one site. The way the Government is managing these contracts seems very inflexible and not in the best interests of the schools concerned. We are pushing Government to restart their works immediately.”

Michael Jameson, the authority’s Strategic Director of Children’s Services, said: “We are very keen for the project to swiftly go ahead because these are new school buildings that will benefit large numbers of students for many years to come. We are encouraging the Education Funding Agency to resolve any issues with their plans as quickly as possible and we will continue to support the schools throughout the process.”

A Historic England spokeswoman said: “We are aware Haggas House is under threat and have received an application for spot listing.

“We have given this careful consideration and our advice has now gone over to the Department for Culture Media and Sport.”

She did not say whether Historic England had recommended the building be granted listed status.

PSBP was launched by the coalition Government following the controversial decision to axe the previous Government’s £55 billion Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme.

This led to school rebuilding programmes being shelved in six areas of Yorkshire: Bradford, Doncaster, Kirklees, North East Lincolnshire, Rotherham and Wakefield.

The four schools in the Bradford district and Whitcliffe Mount which are now involved in the PSBP programme had all been due to be rebuilt under the BSF programme before it was scrapped.

One of the schools affected by the BSF cut was then central to the PSBP work which replaced it.

Campsmount Technology College, in Doncaster, was destroyed by a fire in 2009 and had been due to be rebuilt in 2010 under BSF until the programme was axed by the new government.

However its rebuild was then made a pilot project by the DfE to find ways of delivering school buildings at a lower cost than previous programmes.

The scheme was selected as the Sebastian James Review of Education Capital Pathfinder Project. Lessons learned during its construction helped to shape the PSBP.