Wetherby High School: £25m plan for rebuild of Leeds school ‘beyond economic repair’

Latest early plans for a £25m rebuild of a north Leeds high school are set to go before Leeds City Council decision-makers next week.

By Richard Beecham
Saturday, 11th December 2021, 4:45 am

It follows a warning that Wetherby High School was currently in such a poor state of repair that it may be forced to close in the coming years due to health and safety concerns if nothing was done.

The council’s Executive Board will discuss a paper outlining the plans, which officers claim are “complex and challenging” and would have to be built on a smaller site, opening by September 2024 “at the earliest”.

In order to raise money for the rebuild, the council says it will look at selling off some of the school’s land for housing development.

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Wetherby High School

The report stated that Wetherby High School’s current condition is “extremely poor”, while more than £2.5m has been spent on maintenance work and asbestos removal in the past five years.

It added: “Just addressing the urgent and health and safety issues on a reactive basis is not considered to be sustainable or value for money.

“The school is beyond economic repair and if investment into the building is not forthcoming, there is a risk that the local authority may need to consider bringing forward a proposal to close the school as part of a statutory process.”

“Against this background, consideration has been given to the future of the school and whether it is refurbished, rebuilt or closed.

It is hoped to rebuild the school into a 900-place secondary school. Proposals also include reducing the school land area, currently 18.3 acres, to 10.5 acres.

Leeds City Council officers claim the early business case looks at releasing the remaining land for housing development, in the hopes that it will raise around £9m-£12m to go towards the rebuild.

It is hoped much of the rest of the costs would be covered by other funding sources, including previous contributions by developers.

Officers added that the sixth form at the school, which stopped taking on new pupils in 2019, would still not be would not be “financially sustainable”, and therefore not included in the rebuild.

The report stated: “The rebuild of Wetherby High School plays a positive part in the positioning and vibrancy of Wetherby. In offering secondary provision the town will attract families who want to live close the education offer they choose. It will also support the local economy and retain and increase footfall in the town as new housing growth is brought forward.”

Members of Leeds City Council’s Executive Board will meet to discuss the plans on Wednesday, December 15.

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