South Tyneside Council has approved an application to bulldoze the former Epinay Business and Enterprise School at Clervaux Terrace in the Jarrow area.

Proposals were submitted this month and follow the school’s relocation to the former South Shields School site in 2022, following a multi-million-pound transformation project.

Buildings at the original Epinay site have been earmarked for removal, to potentially pave the way for a new special free school managed by an academy trust.

Further details are awaited from the government but it is understood that the school would cater for pupils aged between four and 11 with additional needs, including social, emotional and mental health needs.

South Tyneside Council has previously said the 56-place primary school would allow more children with additional needs to receive education in South Tyneside, rather than travelling outside the borough.

A council application form stated demolition was proposed to “enable future development of the site”. It was also noted that the former school was “vacant and surplus to the council’s requirements and in a poor state of disrepair with a high volume of asbestos material within the structure of the prefabricated clasp construction”.

After considering the demolition application, South Tyneside Council’s planning department approved it on February 20, 2024.

A council decision report said that given the scale of the buildings, the proposed method of demolition would be acceptable. It was also noted that the proposed method of site restoration would “leave the site in a tidy condition”.

The demolition of the old Epinay site is expected to start in March, 2024, and be finished at the end of June of the same year. Demolition would cover the school, detached ‘life skills hub building’ and one prefabricated modular classroom, as well as the removal of all access roads, footpaths, car park and playground areas. Hand tools, power tools, a mechanical plant and a 360 demolition excavator machine will be used to demolish the site, with measures in place to reduce noise, vibration and dust during the works.

Free schools are legally academies, which are state-funded educational institutions operated by academy trusts and not by local councils. Steps are being taken to find an academy trust to manage the free school, with the new free school building(s) also being subject to a separate planning application and permissions in future. At the time of writing, no planning application for the new free school had been submitted to South Tyneside Council.

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