Empty Coventry school to get huge makeover so new school can move in

The former Woodlands Academy school on Broad Lane
The former Woodlands Academy school on Broad Lane -Credit:Nick Wilkinson

Coventry council will spend an extra £1.6 million on a project to do up an empty school so a new one can move in. It means Woodfield School will be able to move into the old Woodlands School site in Eastern Green which shut in 2017.

The school will take on more pupils, meaning fewer children will be forced to travel outside the city due to a lack of specialist places. But costs for the project have soared and councillors agreed extra funding today, 15 May.

As well as inflation, one reason for the higher costs is "complexities" with the design and refurbishment of the listed building. The building's protected status sparked questions at today's cabinet decision to agree the extra funds.


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Local Cllr Gary Ridley, leader of the Conservative opposition at the authority, asked if the council can "push back" on the listed status and said these often cause problems around the city. Council director of property Richard Moon agreed that listing "makes life much more difficult than it otherwise would be."

Without this the council would likely have opted for a cheaper new build project for the school, he said. "I challenge anybody to walk around there on a cold February morning and liken it to the hanging gardens of Babylon," he added.

Artist impression of plans for new specialist school provision on the former Woodlands School site in Broad Lane, Coventry -Credit:Coventry City Council
Artist impression of plans for new specialist school provision on the former Woodlands School site in Broad Lane, Coventry -Credit:Coventry City Council

But Mr Moon said Historic England has allowed the council to demolish some of the school buildings and the groups have reached a compromise. He also said the organisation is "there to do a job" and they would argue that they are doing the right thing in preserving buildings for future generations.

"Is it ideal? Not in all circumstances no but it's an issue we just have to deal with," he added. Ten blocks built for the 1950s school are Grade II listed according to the Historic England website.

The listing made in the early 1990s describes the school as an "early purpose-built comprehensive" built with a steel frame and precast concrete panels. Changes to the council scheme for the site's refurbishment include replacing roofs, strengthening work and more fire protection measures.

The decision also means Woodfield School will avoid delays to converting to an academy which depends on progress with the project. The school is currently split across different locations and is the only specialist provider for children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs in Coventry.

It is set to move to the site in Woodlands in late 2025. Other councillors at the meeting voiced their support for the plan.

Cabinet Member for children, Labour Cllr Patricia Seaman, said: "This is Coventry at its best, doing its best, listening to our families and making it happen."

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