Ipswich: Work on Suffolk New Academy in Chantry could start later this year
09:19 25 February 2014
This is the first glimpse of the new look for Suffolk New Academy which could taking shape later this year.
The academy has made a formal planning application to the borough council for the new school building – and if it is successful work should start before the end of the current academic year.
The new academy building should then rapidly take shape and should be finished by September 2015.
It is being built on the existing site – it was formally the Chantry High School – and principal Andrew Fell said it would be a major challenge to ensure the Academy could continue to operate while the work is under way.
“This is fantastic news. We have waited a long time, but hopefully work will start at the end of June. The new building will be on the same footprint as the existing classrooms because it was built in the right place.
“It is good that it will stay in the same place because it means we will be able to retain the school grounds and the playing fields which are a very important resource.”
The school had been due to be replaced under the previous government’s “Building Schools for the Future” initiative, but that was cancelled by the incoming coalition.
“That was a major disappointment, but it is great news that we are now set to go ahead.”
The building will be large enough for 900 students, at present there are about 800 on the role, but will be smaller than the former school because it no longer has a sixth form – its students go to Suffolk One, Suffolk New College, or other centres.
The new building will start just after the Academy celebrated the 50th anniversary of the original school being built.
It is sponsored by Suffolk New College, whose Associate Principal Mary Gleave is looking forward to work starting.
She said; “We’re incredibly supportive of this new development, it will be a great improvement for the students and the staff.”
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer was instrumental in getting the new building back in the government’s programme – and accepted the new building did not look exciting externally.
He said: “The problem with the Labour programme was that too many new schools were designed with all kinds of flourishes and were just too expensive.
“Suffolk One cost £50 million. If it had been designed and built more cheaply we could have had several more schools as well.”
However Labour council leader – and Mr Gummer’s opponent at the next election – David Ellesmere felt the delay was very regrettable.
He said: “I am delighted it is going to be built, but if our programme had not been scrapped it would have been built years ago.
“This school will be better than they have, with its leaking roof and its structural problems, but if the Labour scheme had gone ahead it would have been even better.”