Former Ipswich Co-op department store could become new school
PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 October 2016
The former Co-op department store in Carr Street, Ipswich, could have an exciting new lease of life as the town's newest school.
It could be converted into a new 460-place primary school, and if all goes according to plan it could open its doors as early as September 2018.
The proposal has been developed by the Ipswich Primary Academies Trust which has been in discussions with the East of England Co-op, which still owns the building.
Clare Flintoff, Principal Director of the Trust which is based at St Helen’s School not far from Carr Street, said everyone connected with the proposal was very excited – but there was still some way to go.
Firstly there has to be approval from the Department for Education for a new school to be opened and then the Education Funding Authority would have to provide the necessary finance for it.
However there is a clear need demonstrated for new primary school places in the centre of Ipswich and the Active Learning Trust, which runs Chantry Academy and three primary schools in the town, has already been given the go-ahead to open a new school near the town centre in September next year.
Ms Flintoff has been in talks with the Co-op’s chief executive for property Nick Denny, and they are now preparing to hold public consultation to gauge the feeling for the proposal.
She said: “We think this is a very exciting plan for a prominent building – and one that fulfils a real need in the town centre.”
It would include a pre-school and would specialise in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
Exact details of what will happen at the site still have to be worked out – whether the existing building could be converted or a new building replace it.
But the site itself, especially being so near to St Helen’s School, looks ideal – and it would help to regenerate an area of the town centre that needs investment.
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said: “This is a fantastic idea. The Trust is doing a really great job and the Co-op is an organisation that is respected across the area.
“This is something that is really needed in the town and I will do all I can to help.”
A statement issued by the Co-op said: “We are very pleased that a bid for a school has been submitted for the site of our former Department Store on Carr Street.
“This is one of a number of options we are looking at to help reinvigorate this area of Ipswich, and are looking forward to reporting on how things develop in the future.”
You can let the Trust know your views by leaving a comment on their website www.ipswichprimaryacademiestrust.org under the ‘free school’ link.