New Barnsley school opening date pushed back until 2024 as further bat survey required

A new secondary school will not open until 2024, a councillor confirmed yesterday – three years after it was first scheduled.

Friday, 1st April 2022, 11:07 am
Updated Friday, 1st April 2022, 2:58 pm

Trinity Academy Barnsley, on the former Keresforth Centre off Broadway was originally scheduled to open in September 2021, but it was revealed in May that works had been delayed due to “unforeseen circumstances, beyond the council’s control”.

A planning application was lodged in December, and a new opening date of September 2023 was earmarked.

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Trinity Academy Barnsley, on the former Keresforth Centre off Broadway was originally scheduled to open in September 2021.

The opening date of the Department of Education (DofE) funded school has faced fresh delays after bats were discovered in the old NHS buildings earmarked for demolition.

Pupils due to attend Trinity are now being taught at Eastgate House in the town centre, until the new school is completed.

An opposition councillor raised concerns over the number of children having to attend Eastgate House until the build is completed, and the cost to the council.

Councillor Peter Fielding, Liberal Democrat for Dodworth, asked at yesterday’s (March 31) full council meeting: ““The proposed new Free School to be built on Broadway intended to open for the September 2023 intake has been further delayed due to an inadequate bat survey and an incomplete traffic assessment preventing the granting of planning permission.

Trinity Academy Barnsley, on the former Keresforth Centre off Broadway was originally scheduled to open in September 2021.

"The opening of the permanent accommodation will now be delayed by at least 12 months meaning that further temporary accommodation will have to be provided to ensure the Council fulfils its statutory duty as the LEA.

“Given the clear financial and educational interest of the Council in this matter what steps were taken by the Council to avoid this delay and the consequent further unnecessary disruption to students education and how much will this further delay cost the Council?”

Councillor Trevor Cave, cabinet spokesperson for children’s services said: “The Department for Education and Trinity Academy Trust have confirmed that there will be a delay in opening the proposed permanent site.

“The delay is due to the presence of bats in some of the buildings which will be demolished as part of the scheme. The bats are currently hibernating, and a complete survey is required, which can only take place over the spring/summer of 2022.

“This is in line with legislation, and Natural England Guidance.”

Councillor Cave added that the presence of bats is “unlikely” to prevent the school build going ahead, but the developer would have to obtain a license from Natural England.

“The Trinity St Edward school, including the temporary accommodation at Eastgate, is a DofE project that they wholly fund with the government’s free school programme.

“The only cost attributed to the council today has been officer time.

“The DofE and Trinity Academy Trust have just started to implement contingency plans, and have appointed a technical adviser to establish options for accommodation until the proposed permanent site is ready.

“The lead time for constructing the school is dependent on planning permission, requirements, and agreed design.

“The DofE appointed contractor is also finalising a revised programme with an indicative completion date for the permanent school scheduled for 2024.”