DOUBTS have been cast over a heavily delayed £25m school’s completion - which councillors say has caused ‘chaos’ due to its temporary-yet-extended stay at a building in the heart of the town centre which was approved to continue this week.
Trinity Academy St Edward’s is currently situated in a former Barnsley College building - Eastgate House - on one-way Eastgate which has been blighted by illegal parking during term-time.
It has held both year seven and year eight pupils - and plans approved this week by Barnsley Council indicate that it will hold a third year group from as soon as Monday when the new school term begins.
According to a report seen by the Chronicle, it’s still set to open its main site on Broadway, Kingstone, next September and have 90 staff, catering for youngsters aged between 11 and 16.
However, Couns Chris Wray and Will Fielding told the Chronicle they ‘wouldn’t be surprised’ if the plans were pushed back even further having already encountered delays.
In a joint statement, they said: “We would hope the site is ready by 2024, but the Department for Education has bungled a lot of this process already so we wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t.
“I would like to think that the school has relevant contingency plans in place and they will involve local residents with whatever they were planning.
“There are a few disappointments regarding this development.
“The first is that Dodworth and Kingstone councillors were not consulted.
“While this is in the central ward, the actual school is on the border of our wards and of great importance to our residents as our residents go there.
“The second is that this is yet another development failure within Barnsley.
“As a result, some children will have completed most of their secondary schooling in a temporary and unsuitable building.
“These children have no green space for their breaks, and physical education either takes place in an area far too small or they are forced to travel to the Honeywell college site.
“Finally, planning was approved on Wednesday.
“The development of the three temporary modular teaching blocks has been ongoing for at least one-and-a-half months, potentially longer.
“It seems pointless to call it a planning application when building has been ongoing long before the decision date.”
The plans for the new site on Broadway were approved in October due to the lack of school places in Barnsley - with its current home described as ‘not a great site’ due to its positioning in the town centre, which has drawn complaints from nearby businesses due to parents’ illicit parking at drop-off and pick-up times.
The approved plans now leave the surrounding car parks - on County Way - with almost 80 fewer spaces.
Despite this, Barnsley Council’s planning board approved plans for a ‘temporary period’ to erect three more teaching blocks at the site.
Principal Mark Allen dismissed the claims the school won’t be in operation in time for the next cohort to arrive next year.
He told the Chronicle: “The temporary classrooms to welcome our new year seven cohort have been given planning permission by the local authority after very in-depth, supportive and joined up work from all parties over the past six months.
“These new classrooms will add to the superb curriculum already in place.
“Our permanent scheme is moving along as planned and monthly meetings between all parties have been in place since May.
“A timeline has been agreed which will ensure completion of the new site ready for September 2024.”