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PWA helps gain planning consent for a free school in Preston

Building work on a new multi-million pound school project in Preston will begin soon after planning consent for a free school was given by Preston City Council.

The Eden Boys’ School will transform the vacant 11,450 square metre Universal House office building on the corner of New Hall Lane and London Road.

The main part of the L-shaped 1970s building, once home to Shop Direct, will be completely refurbished and re-clad as the main school building, while the smaller part will be demolished and replaced by a new four-court sports hall. A new main entrance to the building, curtain walling and landscaping are also part of the plans.

Preston-based planning consultancy PWA Planning secured planning consent for both aspects of the scheme on behalf of main contractor Conlon Construction. The scheme was designed by Lovelock Mitchell Architects.

The faith-based school, which will be run by the Tauheedul Education Trust, is the first free school to get the go ahead in Lancashire under the recently-introduced Class K permitted development rights. It will be only the third free school in the whole of Lancashire.

Katie Delaney, associate at PWA Planning, said: “This exciting scheme will bring back into use a vacant building on one of the most prominent sites in Preston, giving the building and the immediate vicinity a significant uplift, as well as creating sports facilities for use by the local community.

“The Class T permitted development rights could lead to the creation of more free schools in Lancashire in the future.”

Class T permitted development rights were introduced by the coalition government in 2013 and allow a change of use of certain commercial buildings for use as state-funded schools. Class K was introduced to the planning system to encourage more free schools, which operate outside local authority control.

Tauheedul Education Trust already runs several schools across the country. The trust says the new school will offer places for 700 pupils aged 11-18 and will be open to boys of all faiths and those of no faith.

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