plans to demolish a primary school building in Todmorden and build a new school to the tune of nearly £4m have been given the go-ahead.
Proposals for Ferney Lee School, Ferney Lee Road, were discussed by Calderdale Council’s planning committee on Tuesday.
The issue has raised much debate and plans were put forward to present a more financially viable option than refurbishing the existing school building, which faces significant maintenance and running costs.
Todmorden town councillor Janet Battye (Lib-Dem, Stoodley) spoke in opposition to the plans. She highlighted the importance of the school’s heritage.
“I am here to say ‘please don’t knock it down’,” she said. “I believe there could be interest from local developers who would like an opportunity to consider the use of what it might be put to.”
Other objections, including concerns over whether the new school could accommodate a growing number of pupils in the future and the loss of the use of the playing field for residents were also raised.
Councillor Susan Press (Lab, Todmorden) spoke in favour of the plans.
She said: “The reason I am supporting this is because staff at the school, and governors, want to see a new school on this site. Funding was announced almost three years ago and they have been waiting and putting up with really bad conditions.
“The current building is not fit for purpose. People talk about the heritage value. Of course that’s important, but I think people also need to to take into account what is more important - providing a new school for Todmorden children, or keeping a building open which no longer works?”
Chair David Kirton gave his support to the plans, saying: “The lives of children need to come first and they should be paramount.”
The plans were passed, but will now be referred to the Secretary of State following an objection from Sport England, which raised concerns that the playing field would not be replaced on a like for like basis.
Speaking after the meeting, Coun Press said: “I’m delighted that the planning committee has made the right decision and put the interests of Todmorden children first.”
Meanwhile, Coun Battye said: “I shan’t give up on trying to protect this building for the future.”