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5th Jul, 2022

School in Knowle seeks 'land swap' for £30m relocation

Felix Nobes 7th Mar, 2019

A SCHOOL is seeking support for plans to build houses on its council-owned site in order to finance its £30million relocation.

The Arden Academy site on Station Road in Knowle has been earmarked as an area for potential development by Solihull Council.

The land is included in the Draft Local Plan, a blueprint for which areas of the borough will be used for housing up to 2028.

Arden Academy is proposing plans to fund its move to a new ‘state-of-the-art’ school on land nearby through a ‘land swap.’

The school says it has suggested the council exchanges its land with neighbouring sites owned by property developers.

The developers would fund and build the new school on the land they currently own, it says.

Once built the pupils and staff would relocate to the new school and the old site would be used for building new homes.

The Draft Local Plan Supplementary Consultation report outlines the possibility of the relocation as part of the wider plans for site 9, the ‘Arden Triangle’.

These plans could include more than 600 homes.

Alternative plans would see the retention of the school buildings built in 1959 and the homes built on a different part of site 9.

The school claims it will cost nearly £20million to maintain the buildings and keep them fit for purpose over the next decade.

In a school newsletter announcing the plans, a spokesperson wrote: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to enhance our school, creating new opportunities and new community facilities for everyone young and old in our local area.

“There is a compelling case to justify why the retention of the existing school, with its ageing buildings, is not a suitable solution.

“The council is currently undertaking a consultation exercise on its Draft Local Plan which provides a crucial opportunity to register your support for a new school and for the housing development needed to help finance it.”

A Solihull Council spokesperson said: “The council is aware of Arden Academy’s ambition for a new school.

“We are currently working with the school to understand the business case and to explore the feasibility of any scheme.

“This work is in its early stages.

“No decisions have been taken, nor will be, until the plans are understood and fully costed.”

But Green Party councillor Jean Hamilton said: “This all needs to be in the national spotlight. What Arden School is proposing is using public money that isn’t theirs to feather their own nest at the expense of every other school in the borough that sorely needs more funding.”

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