Campaigners battle to save historic school

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PROTESTERS are fighting to save a former Rotherham grammar school building – which they say forms a key part of the town’s heritage.

Maltby Academy is to undergo a £10.9 million redesign – and one of the options is to demolish the 80-year-old structure on Braithwell Road.

The plans are meeting strong opposition from residents who accuse the Academy Trust of ‘a lack of dialogue’ with people in the area.

One of the protesters, Andrew Searson, said the school’s distinctive front was part of Maltby’s heritage.

“It was built in Maltby, by the people for the Maltby people. It’s been a feature on the Maltby landscape for over 80 years,” he said.

“It’s 80 years old this month and sadly it could be its last. It was built in great hardship. It makes me extremely sad.”

Campaigners stress they are not seeking to deprive Maltby children of the best modern facilities – most have youngsters who would benefit from the modernisation plans.

But they believe the original building can be incorporated into the new-look school, in the way High Storrs School in Sheffield was upgraded.

The Academy says its plans will use 67 per cent of the existing buildings as well as creating new facilities, including a business centre.

But a campaign spokesman said: “A good architect could work wonders with such an iconic building. In fact this was promised last year when we were told the iconic clocktower and frontage would be preserved.

“Now we are being told the building is in a poor condition – the fault of the council which has failed to invest properly in the site for the last 30 years.

“The Academy has been given this site so surely they can give something back and preserve it on behalf of locals? This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore the frontage to its former glory.”

An Academy spokesman said: “There were issues identified with a number of the old buildings, including the old grammar school, that could not be addressed within the planned scheme. The issues relating to the old frontage are to do with suitability, access for all and best benefit for students present and future.

“We recognise any scheme to demolish the frontage could provide challenges given the history of the building.

“However, we need to ensure we have a scheme that meets the educational needs of all Maltby learners.”