Thornbury sixth form hub plan for former council HQ scrapped
12:10pm Thursday 10th July 2014 in News
A SCHEME to transform the former council offices in Thornbury into a joint sixth form centre for the Castle and Marlwood schools has been abandoned.
The secondary schools had been considering moving their respective post-16 departments into the Stokefield House offices, which South Gloucestershire Council has vacated.
But after a long review, the schools have decided that the premises would not be suitable for their purpose.
It now leaves the council pursuing other means of disposing of the building in Castle Street, which has been empty since staff were moved to Yate and Kingswood.
The Castle School in Thornbury will also be looking at how else it can improve its sixth form accommodation as it has been in need of upgrading for some time.
The school has twice as many sixth formers as Marlwood in Alveston - there are currently about 370 at Castle School - but both want to continue their close links, with Marlwood intended to become an academy and part of the Castle School Education Trust from September.
Peter Smart, the acting head of Castle School, said: "We undertook a feasibility study regarding the council offices but the building did not fulfil the need for accommodation."
He said the school would now look again at its existing Gloucester Road sixth form block, which potentially could be redeveloped as part of continuing efforts to match accommodation to the standard of teaching and learning associated with the high performing school.
Mr Smart, who will become head in September, said: "At the moment we are looking at various options regarding the feasibility of Gloucester Road and what can be done there."
Funding such a scheme will need to be explored and permission gained for any redevelopment.
South Gloucestershire Council spokesman, Dominic Moody, said: "We have been working with Castle and Marlwood schools to explore the potential to use the former council offices on Castle Street in Thornbury as a new sixth form centre for both schools.
"The schools expressed an interest in the buildings after the council vacated them as part of its programme to rationalise and consolidate the council estate.
"The schools have now completed an in-depth review, including considering the business case for using the offices as a sixth form centre, but have concluded that the buildings are not appropriate for their needs.
"We will continue to pursue alternative plans for the disposal of the buildings."
Thornbury Town Council had been supportive of the idea of using the Castle Street offices for sixth formers if the building had been suitable.
Councillor Maggie Tyrrell, chairman of the town development committee, said having the building in use was desired as it brought people and trade into the town.
She said: "It didn't stack up for the schools but however the building is occupied, the sooner the better from the town's perspective."
Castle School’s post-16 centre has been in need of serious repairs for years. An application was made for a share of the government Schools Building Programme in 2011 but that bid was rejected.