October 24 2014 Latest news:
Exclusive by Emma Brennan
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
A redundant middle school is set to be bulldozed next month despite failed bids to retain the building for community use.
The future of Uplands Middle School in Sudbury has been in doubt since it closed last July as part of the county’s schools organisation review.
Town councillors were keen to see the York Road building, which was the former Girls High School, retained as an educational facility or base for local charities.
But this week, people living in York Road received letters from Babergh District Council instructing them that the building was earmarked for demolition.
Last night, Sudbury town council was unaware of the plan but Gary Starling, Babergh’s corporate manager for building control, confirmed the district council had received a demolition notice from a county council contractor and had subsequently informed the relevant authorities and people living close to the site.
However, he said no plans had been submitted for future development on the site at this stage.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said the work would be carried out in April once a full asbestos survey has been completed.
She said: “The decision has been taken to demolish the main school building and the works have now been commissioned.
“The works will be carried out with all health and safety requirements met and the demolition notice has been issued as required.
“We will be looking to sell the site for redevelopment in due course. However, the playing fields on the site will remain in use and will be used by Tudor Primary School and Ormiston Sudbury Academy.”
A number of local charities looked at taking on the Uplands building, including Autism Anglia which wanted to use it as a Suffolk base. The Befriending Scheme also put together a proposal for using the school as a training centre.
The county council agreed to give the charities more time to come up with a viable business case and even offered to provide a short term funding package.
However with running costs of around £100,000 a year, this was always going to be a long shot, according to Sudbury mayor Adrian Osborne.
He added: “Community facilities in Sudbury are getting scarcer and the school would have made an ideal base for a number of organisations to share.
“We were hoping to get a community group to head up the bid to use the school for community purposes but it has a massive footprint and we simply haven’t got enough organisations that could afford to take on even a share of that cost.
“I feel it’s very disappointing that the county has taken the decision to demolish the school and it’s a sad loss for Sudbury in terms of what it could have offered.”