SOUTH WOODFORD: Council announces plans to rebuild school
10:06am Thursday 8th January 2009 in Latest News
A "dilapidated" primary school in South Woodford will finally be torn down and rebuilt under new proposals by Redbridge Council.
The plans, which first have to be approved by the authority's cabinet and full council, could see construction work at Churchfields Junior School begin as early as this summer.
Parents of pupils at the school have long campaigned for the council to step in and rebuild its main building, while the authority’s own cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Michael Stark, has even admitted it could have been rebuilt as far back as the 1950s.
Delighted parent Stephanie Klidaras said: "This is brilliant, marvellous news.
"Knowing the history of this council I think we'll keep the corks in the champagne for now until it's finally approved, but to hear it from the mouth of Cllr Stark is very good news."
But Toby Walne, parent of seven-year-old Harrison and nine-year-old Sophia at the school, had mixed views on the announcement.
He said: "It is bittersweet news. I am concerned that they will do it on the cheap.
"Of course they should just have renovated and repaired it so much earlier, then it wouldn’t be in this state. And they’re only doing this because Gordon Brown is giving them this money.
"I just hope the school is built properly."
Cllr Stark said: "It's very good news. The school was always high up on our list and it was unfortunate we had to put it off last year because of the increase in costs which we just couldn't afford."
However he did say that the adjacent Redbridge Drama Centre could be potentially affected by the rebuild.
"There are discussions about what to do with it, but we just don't know at this stage," he added.
Plans to rebuild the school were originally rubber-stamped by the council in 2004, but rising construction costs have delayed the works.
The rebuilding is only on the cards now because of nearly £3 million in recently announced Government grant money to help plug the authority’s budget shortfall.
A spokeswoman for Redbridge Council said the authority would do everything it could to ensure minimum disruption to pupils if building work did go ahead.
She said: "The new school will be built on a separate part of the site and it is anticipated work will take just over two years to complete.
"Pupils will continue to be taught in the current school and their education will not be affected during building works.
"Once complete, pupils will transfer to the new school and the old one will be demolished."
The building works are expected to cost around £10 million, but must first be approved by the council's cabinet on Monday and then again as part of the cabinet's budget by the full council later this year.
- Are you a parent of a child at Churchfields? What's your reaction to the news? Contact the newsdesk on 8498 3437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org