1,000-pupil Chapeltown school plans to go before councillors

Artist's impression of proposed Dixon's Trinity Chapeltown site.
Artist's impression of proposed Dixon's Trinity Chapeltown site.

Controversial plans to build a new school for nearly 1,000 pupils will be discussed by councillors in Leeds this week.

Wilmott Dixon Construction had applied to Leeds City Council back in April to build the facilities along with game areas and sports pitches at Dixons Trinity Chapeltown in Leopold Street.

The application claimed it was responding to direct demand for school places in the city.

But campaigners, councillors and even a local MP opposed the plans, as they felt the building was far too big and could impact on traffic and the local environment.

The school had its first reception intake last September, with plans to become a full ‘all-through’ primary and secondary school by 2023. The proposed building would house 980 pupils aged between four and 16.

The building itself would be three storeys high and 90 metres long. Plans were recently amended to move the building further back from the road after the council expressed concerns it resembled an “office block”.

The applicant had also been asked to consider spreading the school over two adjacent sites. This view was shared by local councillors as well as MP Fabian Hamilton.

Mr Hamilton said in May that the building was “utterly disproportionate” and would cause “real traffic chaos”. A petition to split the school between two sites has also received more than 400 signatures.

James Hartley, head of Chapeltown-based housing charity Leeds Action to Create Homes, also objected to the plans.

He said: “We are concerned about the impact all the additional traffic the development will create.

“We feel that these plans fo not adequately connect the needs of the community and will cause disruptions, distress and annoyance to people living in that area.”

In another written objection, Rev Mark Harwood from nearby Roscoe Methodist Church said: “Most people are supportive of the need for secondary provision, but are equally very concerned with what seems like an attempt to do so ‘on the cheap’ – what is needed is a safe and suitable site for primary age children separate from a similar offer for secondary age children.”

But the report going before councillors on the Leeds North and East Plans Panel includes a response from the applicant, which claimed it was important to house the entire school in one building.

It said: “Our secondary school and primary school in one building is recommended by 100 per cent of our families, and 100 per cent of our students are proud to attend Dixons Trinity Academy. We are oversubscribed by 12 applications for every place.

“Just as the best independent schools share the all-through model in order to deliver exceptional education, so too do Dixons Trinity Academy and Dixons Trinity Chapeltown.

“Our primary children will benefit from the leadership and mentoring of older pupils. Far from being afraid of older students, younger children become familiar with them, and in turn this fosters a sense of community and responsibility.

“In order to provide the very best education and life-chances for the children of Chapeltown, we must be united on one site, under one set of common values, creating a true community.”

It added that the estimated £300,000 benefit to having the school in one building would go directly back into funding the school.

The panel will meet in Civic Hall on Thursday at 1.30pm. Final permission or rejection for the site would be made later in the year.