Don Valley £17m super school plan

Don Valley Stadium being demolished in Sheffield
Don Valley Stadium being demolished in Sheffield
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A £17 million super school and community hub with 1,200 places for youngsters aged two to 16 is set to be built on the site of the former Don Valley Stadium.

Coun Julie Dore, Sheffield Council leader, has given the green light for the project which will see a combined primary and secondary school open on the site by September 2015, subject to planning permission and consultation.

The council says the new academy school will be a ‘cornerstone’ for regeneration and will meet high demand for new pupil places in the surrounding area.

Its ‘state-of-the-art’ facilities would be married with a 1,222-place early years, primary and secondary school campus, with community facilities – and could even house a university technical college.

The new academy school will cost £16.7m, funded by a £13.4m central government grant, with the remaining £3.3m from the council’s capital schools budget.

It will be sponsored by Oasis Community Learning. Once constructed, the site will be leased to the academy trust for 125 years.

A council report on the scheme said: “In September 2015, a new ‘state-of-the-art’ all-through school will open in the heart of the Don Valley area, providing outstanding educational facilities for 1,222 Sheffield children aged between two and 16 which will be accessible to the community.

“Since the closure of the stadium was announced, initial proposals for an Olympic Legacy Park for sports, medical centre and wellbeing in Sheffield have been considered for the Don Valley Stadium site.

“Given there is limited site availability within the Don Valley area for a new school and the benefits that can be realised through integrating the new school with the wider area masterplan, it was determined the optimum location for the new school would be on part of the Don Valley Stadium site.

“The new building will be designed to maximise the benefits of having a single campus for early years, primary and secondary schoolchildren and young people, along with the facilities to enable maximum support services and community use.

“The aim is for the school and community hub facilities to be an integral part of the masterplan for the wider site and a catalyst for the regeneration of the wider area including housing development.

“The planning to realise the vision for the integrated sports facilities continues with our strategic partners, including the English Institute of Sport.

“The review of sports provision across the city has provided a relatively unique opportunity to acquire a site suitable for a two to 16 education campus incorporating early years, primary and secondary school provision with the potential to co-locate with a university technical college with a complementary specialism.

“Alternative smaller sites were considered within the area, but were not considered suitable to accommodate the overall vision which is to incorporate the education and community facilities with the wider sports science facilities currently being developed.”

However, campaigners who had been fighting to save the Don Valley Stadium as a sports facility expressed ‘disappointment’ over the way the stadium’s closure was handled.

Lewis Samuel, a 47-year-old 400m runner who competed in the 1990 European Championships and member of the Save Don Valley Stadium group, said: “At least the school is for the community.

“However, I do believe the council has been devious and hasty in their demolition of the stadium.

“Through it all, the council has been a little bit underhand.”

Mr Samuel bemoaned the loss of the stadium, adding it was one of the best facilities in the country and cannot be matched an improved Woodbourn Road athletics stadium nearby.

He said: “When Don Valley opened as a facility it was unrivalled. We have gone from one of the best facilities in northern England to one of the worst in 12 months.

“I am very disappointed. We have lost the best athletic facility outside London.”

Consultation over the scheme will take place in the next few months. The council said a planning application is expected to be submitted in the next few weeks.