School sports hall plan for Preston office block

Universal House in Preston is the subject of plans for change

Universal House in Preston is the subject of plans for change

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Controversial plans to build a school sports hall on the site of a former call centre are back on the table.

A full planning application to build a four court sports hall, curtain waling and a new main entrance at the former Littlewoods office in London Road, has been submitted to Preston Council.

We need local authorities to be in charge of building and opening schools and deciding where the places are needed.

Simon Jones

The proposal also includes landscaping, with games court areas, car parking and a new vehicle entrance.

Submitted on behalf of the Tauheedul Education Trust, it comes hard on the heels of the council’s refusal of a plan to set up a permanent free school on the site.

The proposal was thrown out on the grounds that there was not enough evidence to show it wouldn’t impede the free flow of traffic on the surrounding highway network, and both pedestrian and highway safety.

However, the Eden Boys School, which was sanctioned by the Department for Education and is set to open in September, was given permission by the DfE to use a former council building in Guildhall Street in the meantime.

Bosses from the charitable trust, which will run the school, are planning to appeal against the decision and are pressing ahead by seeking consent to demolish a three-storey wing of the office block and replace it with the state-of-the art sports facilities.

Applicants say the facilities will also be made available for community use and, apart from suggested changes to the way some doors open, it has been supported by Sport England.

If it goes ahead on the site, Eden Boys School will house 500 11-16 year olds and up to 200 sixth formers

“We are not short of school places in Preston and we already have a range of outstanding and good schools across the city.

In it’s submission to the DfE Lancashire County Council said the new school was not needed as there were already surplus places in high schools in the area.

Simon Jones, the county’s executive member of the National Union of Teachers, said: “Free schools are just not needed and not wanted.

“They absolutely wreak havoc with local authorities’ coherent admission planning for school places, and they have a severe adverse impact on neighbouring schools.

“We need local authorities to be in charge of building and opening schools and deciding where the places are needed.”