School gets go-ahead for £2m sports hall

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A school in Duffield has been given the green light to build a new sports hall costing about £2 million by planners at Amber Valley Borough Council.

Construction on a fitness suite, dance studio, PE classroom and café style seating area will begin next month at Ecclesbourne School.

Plans were originally drawn up in 2008 and involved selling off playing fields to housing developer Radleigh Homes in exchange for the building of new facilities.

However those proposals met with local opposition – including unsuccessful attempts by Duffield residents to have the playing field declared a village green.

Now, a revised plan – which includes a new Sport England standard, four-court sports hall and does not include selling off land – has been granted planning permission.

Headteacher James McNamara said: “Our staff and students have made the best of inadequate sporting facilities for many years and the new sports complex, with an anticipated opening date during 2013, will be an important improvement to our provision for the school and the community.

“Given the already impressive record of sporting excellence at our school we have good reason to expect even better in future years.”

In 2008, resident Luke Heaton, who is founder of the Duffield Village Forum, submitted a village green application.

The move came after Ecclesbourne School struck a deal with Derby-based Radleigh Homes that involved building a new sports hall, a fitness suite and a five-lane, 25-metre, heated, indoor swimming pool, in return for selling the playing field, on which 90 homes would be built.

Netball and tennis courts would also have been upgraded as part of the project which, it was believed, would have cost around £5 million.

At the time the school claimed it had not tolerated public use of the area as a village green in the past.

Becoming a village green would have meant the land, off Meadow Vale, could not have been developed for at least 25 years and would have been kept for public use.

However, after dropping the homes plan, the school asked architects CPMG to come-up with a new design, which was approved by the council’s planning department.

The design which features double height glazing, a dramatic sweeping roofline, timber cladding and incorporates graphics of sporting activities on the exterior walls is expected to be completed next summer.

Hugh Avison, Group Director at CPMG Architects said: “With the Olympics putting sport into the spotlight, we’re particularly pleased this project has been given the go-ahead as it will provide access to high-quality facilities for pupils and the local community.

“The buildings have been designed to be both practical and attractive, providing a comfortable, contemporary environment where people can train, compete and enjoy.

“I think the facilities will be an excellent addition to the school and the local community.”

The secondary school and sixth form currently has 1,420 pupils on roll.