Approval for new Leeds primary school on former furnace site

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Plans for a new primary school on a former waste incinerator site in inner city Leeds have been approved – with reassurances from the council that the land is completely safe to build on.

The new Nightingale Primary School, in Florence Street, Harehills, will eventually have space for 420 children. It sits in an area where primary schools are already full to bursting and where the birth rate is growing.

A recent Leeds Council plans panel meeting heard there was an urgent need for the school in the area, and the proposal was unanimously approved.

However, a report to the committee acknowledged: “The previous uses of the site are an obvious cause of concern”.

Asbestos and other contamination in the land will not be removed. However, the site will be sealed and capped to legal standards before any development.

The report said ground investigations had revealed “serious levels of contamination across the whole site”. “The extent and depth of the contamination suggests that it would be unviable to remove,” it added. “Instead it is proposed that the contamination is capped and sealed”.

A Leeds City Council spokeswoman explained any new school proposal involves a land contamination study.

“The site on Florence Street, in Harehills, has shown some remedial work is necessary to ensure the site is safe for the proposed development,” she said.

“Our priority is always the safety of children, and planning approval would never be granted for a school if there was a possibility the site was unsafe in any way”.

She said the proposed remediation work was the “usual and safe” method and was a condition of any planning approval.

It was initially hoped the school would open for September 2014 entry, but that has now been extended by a year. Click here to register and have your say on the stories and issues that matter to you