The rebuild of a fire-damaged Calderdale school has moved a step forward after the planning application was submitted to the Council.
On 1 February 2022, an arson attack at Ash Green Community Primary School in Mixenden caused a huge fire, destroying four classrooms and other areas in the upper site of the school.
The extent of the damage meant that Calderdale Council had to demolish the affected building, making sure the site was safe.
There was also extensive smoke damage to the rest of the school, so a big clean-up was needed for the school to stay open. The kindness of Calderdale’s communities shone through, with £20,000 donated through a Community Foundation for Calderdale fundraiser and £8000 through a crowdfunding campaign as well as other donations.
The pupils who were previously based in the affected building have been learning in temporary modular classrooms. A proposed brand new building could soon get the go ahead and would be funded by the Department for Education Risk Protection Arrangement (RPA).
The planning application is for a new-build to connect to the existing school, with improved facilities to boost the learning experience for pupils. There would be bigger classrooms, an all-year-round outdoor play area / Multi-Use Games Area, level floors throughout with ramps to make the building safer and easier to use for people with mobility issues, and sustainable features including solar panels and air source heat pumps to enable the building to generate its own energy – contributing to the Council’s priority for climate action and Calderdale’s ambitious target to be a carbon-neutral place by 2038.
Cllr Adam Wilkinson, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, said:
“I am proud of the resilience of pupils, staff and the community in bouncing back from the devastating fire at Ash Green, and the kindness of all the local people who pulled together to help with the clean-up. These are the qualities that define our Vision 2024 for Calderdale and help achieve our aspirations.
“We are ambitious for Calderdale’s children and young people, and know they deserve a great learning environment to help them achieve their best. So, we’re really pleased to reach the planning application phase in providing a top-class new building. This has been a real partnership between the Council’s Major Projects and Education and Inclusion teams, the school and the Department for Education.”
Mungo Sheppard, Headteacher of Ash Green Community Primary School, added:
“It’s been a long road to recovery thus far and we still have a long way to go, but we are thrilled with the new design to rebuild the section of school we lost so devastatingly last February. The resilience of our school community has been immense and this has been boosted by fantastic support from so many places.
“We have got through winter in our temporary accommodation and we all now look forward to work that is expected to commence at the end of summer to see our new build take shape. I would like to thank the DfE and Calderdale Council for all the collegiate work with school to get to this point and in anticipation of the hard work to come next.”
The planning application decision is expected in spring 2023. Subject to approval, construction of the new-build would be due to start on site in September 2023, with careful planning to ensure learning could continue throughout the construction phase.
The year 2024 marks Calderdale’s 50th birthday. Where do we want to be by 2024? Get involved on Twitter with #VisionCdale2024 and find out more at www.calderdale.gov.uk/vision