Sunday, June 14, 2009

Building Schools for the Future - and the Littlewoods Building on Edge Lane

I am still waiting to hear whether the planning application was passed yesterday that will allow the building of two new schools at the Littlewood's Building on Edge Lane. (edit: the meeting is Tuesday)

I have blogged before about earlier plans for this wonderful building which unfortunately came a cropper because of the credit crunch.

What matters to me is that we preserve the facade and majesty of the building for the future. Although I don't understand it, I do accept that the people who decide on the listings of buildings have not deemed the former Littlewood's building sufficiently important to list. This is quite beyond me when you see some of the hideous things that do get listed, but there you are.

So the preservation of the Littlewood's Building is going to be down to local efforts to find a developer interested in the site.

With Urban Splash now out of the picture, Liverpool City Council's bid to build two new schools is really worthy of discussion and consideration. I attended the consultation in the Devonshire House Hotel a few months ago and raised some of our residents' concerns with the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) team.

I then submitted the following formal response.

Since I attended the consultation at the Devonshire House Hotel, I have continued to make enquiries about the plans and to see how people are reacting to them.
As I suspected the main concerns are
1. to preserve the facade of the building, including both book ends on Edge Lane
2. to ensure community use of the school as much as possible
3. to ensure no traffic difficulties on Edge Lane at dropping off and picking up times
4. to ensure Botanic Park is protected from vandalism or damage
5. to ensure that our kids can apply to go there too
You have already satisfied me on these points, generally
1. You intend to preserve the facade, although were going to have to rethink the second bookend which you had anticipated knocking down but I hope I have persuaded you otherwise
2. This is part of the plans for BSF and extended schools anyway
3. You anticipated using the new road across the technology park and a special bus route through the grounds for this, keeping cars away from Edge Lane
4. You anticipate enhancing the park, with drainage, possibly a cricket pitch and some more pitches and you asked me to contact Friends of Botanic Park on your behalf - which I have
5. You said that children from across the city can apply to go there as is currently the case with the two existing schools, although as it is a faith school they will have some element of managed intake. On that basis, I am happy to support these proposals.

I then submitted the same response to the Planning Committee.

I understand that Liverpool City Council intends that Archbishop Blanch CofE Girls School in the city centre area and St Margaret's CofE Boys School in Aigburth should move to this new site, on the Wavertree Science and Technology School, but that St Margaret's are refusing to do so. I wont repeat on a public blog what one Governor has said about why they don't want to move to Edge Lane, but I thought it was extremely disappointed and I hope not typical.

However, I have also been approached by governors of St Hilda's CofE Girls School in Sefton Park who would love to move to Edge Lane in place of St Margaret's, so much so that they are even prepared to discuss going co-ed if they can move.

I am meeting Tim Warren, Head of BSF tomorrow to see whether we can get some movement on this. What we simply cannot allow is for the proposals to fall through and for the Littlewood's Building to be allowed to fall down or be demolished, we must find a future for it, and what better than putting schools with Science specialisms onto this site?

More on this as the situation unfolds.

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