Leeds Sustainable Development Group (LSDG) in partnership with the GORSE Academies Trust, which oversees Farnley and Morley Academies in Leeds, have unveiled a new project to develop one of the largest free schools in the country. They believe that the creation of this new school will lead to substantial development of other amenities in the south of Leeds city centre.
Free schools are taxpayer funded and free to attend, but are not under the control of a local authority.
Co-ordinator of the LSDG, architect David Lumb, said, “The southern part of Leeds city centre between the River Aire and the motorways has tremendous development potential.
“There are some 210 acres (85 hectares) of vacant or under-utilised sites and premises which could accommodate some 8,000 to 10,000 new residential units on brownfield land.
“Significant investment in social infrastructure such as schools, health centres and community facilities is vital to the creation of a long term sustainable urban community in this area.
“There is already a shortage of school places in Leeds and by providing a new, centrally located, outstanding school, our aim is to kick-start development which will entice families to move back to this highly accessible area and encourage young families and city dwellers in their twenties and thirties to remain within the urban core.”
John Townsley, the executive principal of GORSE Academies Trust, a charitable company which currently oversees the Farnley and Morley Academies in Leeds, said that an application for this new free school was to be submitted to the Department for Education in December. If the application is approved, the project is set to provide services for both primary and secondary students up to the age of nineteen.
Although the final details are yet to be set, it is expected that the school, if approved, will cater for around 1,500 pupils, for children of all abilities, including those with physical and learning disabilities.
Mr Townsley said, “We appreciate the contribution this project will make to the learning community and are really excited at the prospect of working with Leeds City Council and other providers to deliver an excellent new facility at the heart of our city centre.
“The new academy will also provide greater access to opportunity in an area in need of regeneration.”
Mr Lumb added, “The southern part of Leeds City Centre is an excellent location for the school.
“A number of developments are already taking place to stimulate the revitalisation of this area, including the Leeds City College at the Print Works, new housing in Hunslet, the proposal for an international data-handling centre, the re-launch of New Dock and the NGT trolleybus. A successful, high-achieving school is a fundamental part of the social infrastructure of a 21st century city.”