Heywood Sports Village
The site at Heywood Sports Village. Image from Google.

Rochdale picks free school site

The council will look to dispose of a site at Heywood Sports Village to help bring forward a free school for pupils with autism and special educational needs.

At a cabinet meeting next week, the council is expected to name the Heywood site as its preferred option for the school, from a shortlist of five.

The preferred site, next to the sports village off West Starkey Street, is currently unused because of sub-surface rubble, and is identified as having the potential to be released for development. Sports England has signalled it would have no objection to a new school on the land.

Rochdale Council said the new school was “desperately required” given the borough’s Redwood Special School is full, despite being extended. The school will cater for pupils aged between 11 and 19.

The council has successfully bid for Department for Education funding for special schools, and is required to start negotiating heads of terms with the department to release a site to develop the school.

An academy trust to run the school is expected to be appointed later this year, with a funding deal put in place in the winter. Procurement and delivery of the build is expected to take around 18 months, meaning the school could be open in 2021.

The site will be disposed of to the DfE on a 125-year lease.

If the site at Heywood Sports Village cannot be brought forward, an alternative has been identified at Bullough Moor playing fields.

Rochdale’s cabinet is expected to sign off the proposals at a meeting next week.

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