Demolition teams move in on town primary school
PUBLISHED: 16:38 13 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:39 18 February 2020
The bulk of a former primary school is days away from being torn down to make way for a new £12m special needs hub.
Letters dropped on doormats of people living around the perimeter of Alderman Swindell Primary School, in Beresford Road, Great Yarmouth this week advise that work will begin on Monday (February 17) and take around eight weeks, with building work on the new school due to begin in May.
The new social, emotional, and mental health (SEMH) free school will cater for up to 94 pupils, all boys, aged five to 16, on a day and residential basis.
It has been described as a provision for pupils who present "regular extreme challenging behaviour" and of "high risk to themselves, their peers and adults."
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Site manager for Penteco Construction Martin Brittain said it was the more modern additions, some added 15 years ago, and the sports hall that were going and that the original building with its period frontage would be staying.
One of the key aims of the new school is to help pupils to attend their most local school, reducing travel times and costs, and the need for out-of-county placements.
Norfolk County Council proposed what it billed as "a merger" of Alderman Swindell and nearby North Denes Primary School some three years ago.
Parents at Alderman Swindell rose up against the plan that ultimately saw Swindell shut and £7m pledged on new buildings at North Denes which are currently going up.
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People on social media have said they are sad to see the school knocked down, sharing memories of their school days and former chums.
One man described how he had refurbished the original woodblock flooring just before the closure.
Writing on Facebook he said: "When I'd completed it, I commented to the head teacher, 'Well, that should now last you another 50 years, at least'. How ironic!"
The new school is one of three planned by Norfolk County Council as part of a £120m investment in special educational needs provision.
Alderman Swindell closed in July 2018 just shy of its 90th anniversary despite a spirited campaign to save it.
A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: "We are starting to prepare this site for construction and our contractor, Pentaco Construction, has begun to carry out a range of preparatory works.
"This will include demolishing buildings that would not form part of the proposed new school - so the southern part of the school and its frontage onto the road would be retained.
"All works will be carried out under permitted development approval and hoardings have been put up round the site for safety and security reasons. "The school, for children in the Great Yarmouth area with social emotional and mental health needs, is being proposed as part of Norfolk County Council's £120m investment in transforming special needs education in the county and is due to be considered by the county council's Planning Committee on 21 February."