Work starts on first new primary school for North Solihull

(5th December 2006)

Local construction company Bluestone PLC has started work at the first new school to be built as part of the £1.8 billion Regenerating North Solihull project.

The scheme, designed by Birmingham-based Architects Design Partnership LLP (ADP), will see the construction of a new £6.5 million Kingshurst Primary School on the playing fields of the current Junior and Infant schools, taking away the need to move pupils whilst construction takes place. Once redundant, the old buildings will be demolished and replaced with new playing facilities.

The new state-of-the art extended school building, which is being delivered as part of a multi-million project to transform primary education in North Solihull, will accommodate 420 infant and junior pupils as well as a 60-place nursery, when it opens during the 07/08 academic year. It will also offer extensive facilities for the whole community to enjoy, such as IT facilities for parents and a childrens' centre offering a range of primary care services and will be open throughout the year including during school holidays.

Mark Rogers, corporate director for education and children's services at Solihull Council, said: "This is the first step in a fantastic project that over the next few years will transform educational standards and learning environments across the North of the borough of Solihull.

"The creation of Kingshurst Primary School and the other new primary schools being proposed for North Solihull, along with the investment being made in secondary and further education in the area, will make Solihull a beacon of excellence in education and extended services, and the envy of local authorities across the country."

This key milestone for the Regenerating North Solihull initiative illustrates the North Solihull Partnership's commitment to deliver real change to the 40,000-strong community very early on in the 15 year project. The Partnership, a development consortium consisting of housebuilder Bellway Homes, investment-led regeneration company Inpartnership, Solihull Council and Registered Social Landlord Whitefriars Housing Group is responsible for the pioneering programme.

The two-form entry, two-storey new Kingshurst Primary School building will be around 31,000sq ft (2,900m). Infants will be sited in the ground floor classrooms, which will have direct access to secure outdoor classrooms, providing maximum opportunities for educational play. Environmentally sound child-friendly materials will be used wherever possible to enhance the feeling of safety, remove the risk of injury, and crucially to create a welcoming environment.

The nursery will provide pre-school children (age three upwards) with free half-day sessions five days a week, and parents will also be able to 'top up' the time their child spends at nursery. Meanwhile the Children's Centre, which will be located within the new main school building, will enable many Primary Care services, such as speech therapy for children and midwifery to be accessed on site.

Alongside the new primary schools that are being delivered as part of the 15 year project, 12,500 existing homes are being improved, 8,000 new homes will be built, and five new village centres will be created at a cost of £100million, incorporating enhanced local healthcare provision and additional community facilities. North Solihull's area-changing programme has been brought about because its three wards of Chelmsley Wood, Smith's Wood and Kingshurst & Fordbridge fall within the UK's top 10 per cent of deprived neighbourhoods.

Paul Hanbury, director of North Solihull Primary School Regeneration, said: "We're absolutely delighted that after months of talking, consulting and planning, work has begun on the first of many new primary schools for North Solihull.

"Time and again residents have told us that the development of new primary schools needed to take top priority in the regeneration project, and the start of construction at Kingshurst Primary School has shown them that we are living up to our promises.

"From the beginning, Regenerating North Solihull has not just been solely about creating a better built environment - as important as that is - but also about helping the residents of North Solihull by creating education and employment opportunities to create a platform for long term sustainability across the area."

Stewart Forbes, project manager for Bluestone, said: "We are delighted that North Solihull Partnership has chosen us to carry out this project and we look forward to working with them to improve educational facilities in the area.

"Our expertise in the education sector will enable us to provide a sustainable, state-of-the-art facility that fully meets the needs of the staff and pupils at the new school."

Jeff Darby, who will be head teacher at the new Kingshurst Primary School, said: "This project has been a long time in the planning so it is wonderful to finally see the diggers getting to work on site.

"There is no substitute for a good education and our splendid new facility will give the children of this area the very best opportunity to get on in life."


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