Spires Academy gets go-ahead for £8.2m redevelopment

thisisoxfordshire: Headteacher Sue Croft Headteacher Sue Croft

AN £8.2M vision for the future of Oxford Spires Academy will be realised after councillors gave plans for a new business centre the go-ahead.

Last night members of the city council’s east area planning committee unanimously agreed to grant planning permission for the new building.

The academy can now go ahead with its plans for the “Reuben Business Centre”, with ICT suites, a laboratory, sixth-form centre and a 330-seat lecture theatre.

Headteacher Sue Croft, pictured, said: “We’re really pleased, for the community and for the students, who really deserve first rate facilities for a first rate education so they can go on to have the very best in life.

“Our time capsule is being buried on Friday, and then we’ll be all set and ready to start building.

“All the hoardings are up and everything is ready to go.

“It will be finished in September 2013, ready for current year six students.”

The project is being funded with cash given to the school when it relaunched as an academy last year, along with a donation from The Reuben Foundation, the charitable arm of the Reuben Brothers’ real estate company.

The application was submitted by the academy’s sponsor, the CfBT Education Trust, which selected Nightingale and Kier for the design and build.

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Kier Construction design manager Andy Vernon said: “Having worked with the academy and Nightingale Associates over the last few months and having undertaken some initial refurbishment works, it is great that the green light has been given for the major part of the Oxford Spires redevelopment.”

There were no objections to the application and the plans were waved through by councillors last night.

The academy currently has around 120 car parking spaces, with an overflow area outside the sports hall.

The new development will not increase the number of spaces but it will relocate them to the east of the site.

A report by planning officer Andrew Murdoch praised the scheme.

Mr Murdoch said: “The proposal would improve the overall quality of the teaching accommodation by providing modern facilities which will serve the educational needs of students in the Cowley area and enable the academy to further develop its recent academic improvements.

“The small area of parking would result in the loss of a small part of the open recreation space which would certainly be regrettable, however, this part of the field is currently underused and the benefits to the layout in terms of improved student safety would be welcomed.”

Mr Murdoch was concerned that any reduction of spaces would have increased on street parking in the surrounding area.

The Academy, which opened in January 2011, on the old Oxford School site, has a total of 800 students.

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