One of oldest high schools in Leeds to be rebuilt after £25m scheme approved

Leeds City Council chiefs have approved a multi-million pound rebuild of a school the authority claims is “beyond repair”.
Wetherby High School

Photo: Steve RaceWetherby High School

Photo: Steve Race
Wetherby High School Photo: Steve Race

A council meeting heard the decision was the culmination of more than a decade of work, adding that it would give pupils and staff “the buildings they deserve”.

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Wetherby High School will be completely rebuilt – a scheme expected to cost around £25m, with an expected completion date of September 2024.

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It follows a warning that the 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.

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.

During a meeting of Leeds City Council’s Executive Board, James Lewis said: “This is a culmination of years of work trying to rebuild Wetherby High School.

IN OTHER NEWS: House of Fraser in Briggate to be demolished to make way for hundreds of student flats“The plan is to rebuild the high school on a smaller site. It’s been a good piece of work – parts of the school date back to World War II, making it one of the oldest schools in Leeds.”

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Coun Alan Lamb (Con) told the meeting: “I can give wholehearted support for this, it is the result of 14 years of hard work.

“Coun (Jonathan) Pryor (LCC executive member for education) has been willing to work and engage with us. It’s an ambitious, complicated and complex scheme, but it is completely the right thing to do.

“It shows what we can do when we put our differences aside and get stuck into a difficult problem together.

“This will give pupils, staff and governors the building they deserve.”

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Coun Stewart Golton (Lib Dem) added: “This is a good example of when people are given the free reign to do so, creativity can happen. Wetherby and Royds high schools were the last two big investment high school buildings in Leeds over the last few years.”

A report by Leeds City Council officers claimed the school’s current condition was “extremely poor”, and that 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.

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“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.

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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.

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