Old school to get new lease of life

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A FORMER Victorian school building could be set to return to its original use after plans to revitalise it were submitted.

CfBT Education Trust is looking for the go-ahead from St Edmundsbury Borough Council to use Old Kingdom Hall in Short Brackland, Bury St Edmunds, as one of its ‘Include’ centres.

The education charity has recently won a contract to deliver the EOTAS (education other than at school) programme in Suffolk and has identified the building as an ideal location.

A spokesman for Include said: “We have been searching for a viable site for approximately three months with no success.

“This location offers us a secure site with a single point of access and the building has enough space and the configuration of rooms to allow us to have formal classrooms and smaller areas where we can provide one-to-one sessions.

“The building itself provides a positive learning environment in an accessible location for our clients.”

The Include service focuses on five to 11-year-olds, delivering a curriculum with an emphasis on developing ‘personal, social and communication skills’.

The intention is for staff to work with children who have struggled in mainstream education within a secure environment.

The building, a short distance from Cornhill Walk, would host a maximum of 12 children, with up to 10 members of staff focusing on Key Stage 1 and 2. It will open from 9am to 3.30pm.

Marshall, Buck and Casson, the landlord’s agent, has struggled to find tenants for the town centre building since it went on the market in February 2011.

Only minor works will be required to make the building suitable for CfBT’s purposes, with its planning application being for change of use.

As well as the reuse of unused space, the application’s success would mean that 10 new jobs are created.

The building is not listed but does lie within Bury’s Town Centre Conservation Area. CfBT is hoping that impact on traffic in the area will be minimal due to a minibus service collecting and dropping-off children.

The borough council received the application on December 8, with CfBT looking to take on the premises on a four-and-a-half year lease.