Community could run the former Ridings School

The Ridings
The Ridings

A COMMUNITY group is poised to takeover the former Ridings School at Ovenden, Halifax.

The school closed in 2009 and is estimated to be worth about £1.5 million if it was sold on the open market.

Council leaders have been asked to give “Centre at Three Ways” a 125-year-lease to the property so that they can develop it for community and commercial use.

About 20 organisations have shown an interest in the 9.5 acre site but Three Ways is the only one to produce a viable business plan.

If Calderdale Council cabinet gives the goahead on Monday, the group will have to carry out comprehensive community consultation and produce a full business case by the end of September showing how it can run the premises without council subsidy.

The asset transfer would be one of the largest in the country, if it goes ahead as planned, and will avoid the council having to spend £300,000 on maintenance costs.

However the council would remain a key anchor tenant, possibly renting office space, along with the New Beginnings Christian Centre and a doctors’ surgery.

Three Ways would run the sports facilities on the site which are currently managed by the council.

The council’s economy and environment spokesman, Coun Barry Collins, said the authority was keeping its promise to make sure the former school site is maintained for the community.

“When the school closed, the easy option would have been to demolish the building and dispose of the site.

“But we always said that we would join with partner organisations to ensure that this valuable asset was put to good use for the communities of North Halifax.

“A doctors’ surgery has already opened there and we expect a pharmacy to also be provided in the near future. So it is great news that Centre at Three Ways has now outlined its plans for the rest of the site.”

Councillor Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) said it had been a long and complex process but the council had worked hard with local partners to find a way forward and ensure the re-birth of the Ridings site.

“Now the scheme can take its place, alongside the £35 million Trinity Academy at Holmfield and the OSCA sports development at Four Fields, as part of our community’s wider renaissance project for North Halifax”.