Six footpaths axed to make way for Stoke-on-Trent's newest school

Artists impression of the new Florence MacWilliams Academy to be built in Stoke-on-Trent
-Credit: (Image: Copyright Unknown)

Six footpaths are being axed and two more diverted - to make way for a new high school. Co-op Academy Florence MacWilliams has planning permission for the land which was once home to Longton High School and Meir Sports and Social Club.

But the development requires changes to Meir's footpath network. Now Stoke-on-Trent City Council's Public Rights of Way Panel has this week agreed to block off the six footpaths and divert two more.

A council report states: "The development will affect multiple rights of way that cross the site. These are popular with local residents but are not easily accessible in poor weather. After lengthy discussions with the developer and representatives of affected user groups it was proposed that six footpaths would require wholly or partially extinguishing and two would be diverted around the perimeter of the site. It is this proposal that the developer has now requested the council to progress.

READ: Go-ahead for Stoke-on-Trent's newest high school to house 120 students in temporary building - It will cater for Year 7 pupils while work takes place to build Co-op Academy Florence MacWilliams' new permanent site

READ: Parents apply for places at Stoke-on-Trent's newest high school as plan approved - The new Florence MacWilliams Academy is earmarked for land in Meir

"The paths that are to be extinguished pass over the site and would be obstructed by the development. The expedient process would be to permanently close them to public use.

"The paths to be diverted will provide connectivity to the remaining wider rights of way network. They will also benefit from surface improvements so they are accessible to the wider community in all but the worst of weather so contributing to the health of the local community and would provide a more sustainable option for pupils to attend the school than short car journeys."

Site masterplan image, Florence MacWilliams Academy
Site masterplan image, Florence MacWilliams Academy -Credit:Florence MacWilliams Academy

Peak and Northern Footpath Society and the councillor for Longton and Meir Hay South backed the proposal. But local residents will lose a number of shortcuts through the ditching of the footpaths.

Panel chairman Andy Platt said: "There are a lot of rights of way crossing over the site and some have to be diverted. There is not much of a loss but it will obviously affect some people. I think there is a concern about it among members, but for people closer to it there are no concerns and I think it would be a bit awkward for us to go against that. We accept it reluctantly but we record our concerns."

Councillor Laura Carter added: "There is only so much we can do with a development on the site. There is going to be an impact, but then again what we are going to have as a city is great."

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