New academy approved for Droylsden
Friday 12th October 2018 @ 11:55 by Lauren Entwistle
Community Droylsden Education News

A new free school that pledges to challenge the ‘status quo’ and give state pupils a ‘level playing field’ against private education has been approved in Tameside.

By Local Democracy Reporter Charlotte Green

This is how a huge new free school in Tameside will look.

Bosses have pledged to challenge the ‘status quo’ and give state pupils a ‘level playing field’ compared to those in private education.

The Laurus Ryecroft academy will be built on the site of the former Littlemoss High School in Droylsden, but will have almost triple the number of pupils, with 1,350 places up for grabs.

Plans were approved by town hall chiefs this week.

It will be run by the Laurus Trust academy chain, which runs Cheadle Hulme High School and Cheadle Hulme Sixth Form in Stockport and Gorsey Bank Primary in Wilmslow, Cheshire.

The new building will cover more than 10,000 sq m. The school will boast a include a ‘multi-use games area’, three grass pitches and two running tracks.

The building will be on green belt land and will be taller than the former boys school.

But planners argued there were ‘very special circumstances’ when the proposals went before council chiefs, citing the severe shortage of school places in Tameside.

Some residents did object to the plans.

Angela Egerton told councillors: “It would [have] a significant impact on our home life.

“The sheer size of the school at 1,350 students is a major over-development of the site.

“I just feel like all the green space in the area has been taken away from us.

“It’s just further frustration and stress and anxiety to the residents living here.”

Derek Withers said residents said there are already traffic problems on Lumb Lane and Cryer Street following the erection of temporary classrooms.

“It’s chaos, I have seen drivers do u-turns in the street,” he said.

But Tim Bowman, assistant director for education at Tameside council, said that if the school was not approved, it would leave a shortage of around 160 places by 2020 – which would cost the council £2.6m.

“The trust has an excellent track record and we are very happy that it’s joining the Tameside family,” he added.

Linda Magrath, CEO of the Laurus Trust, said: “We at Laurus make no apology for being unashamedly academic.”

She said that in their existing Cheadle Hulme academy they had been a ‘green beacon’ of promoting cycling and more environmentally friendly ways to travel to school.

“We will change the status quo in Tameside. For state school pupils there hasn’t been a level playing field – until now,” Ms Magrath added.

Bosses said the new school will be filled at a year group at a time.

Transport for Greater Manchester chiefs objected to the application and raised concerns about the impact of congestion on nearby junctions, but relented after mitigation proposals were agreed.

These included the upgrade of software used to manage signalling at the junction of Manchester Road and Market Street, and at Oldham Road and Wilshaw lane, totalling £14,450.

Council chiefs are also asking for £5,000 towards the installation of a CCTV camera to monitor traffic flows at the Manchester Road and Ashton Road junction.

A total of 144 cycle parking spaces would be provided in the area to the front of the school building.

A 20mph speed limit will be put in place on sections of the road, along with a £60,000 pelican crossing.

The school would also enforce a one-way system for parents wanting to drop off and collect their children.

The application was approved by the committee.