PLANS to extend a County Durham school which is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year are being recommended for approval.

Durham County Council’s planning officers are suggesting the plans for Wolsingham School and Community College be given the go ahead.

The school is currently divided across two sites, the former grammar school built in 1911 known as the lower school, and the bigger upper school built in the 1950s.

Loading article content

The council is planning to build an extension on the lower school and eventually demolish the 1950s building.

But several neighbours have objected saying the planned extension to the 103-year-old part of the school would be out of keeping with the building and surrounding conservation area.

In their application, the council said: “The purpose of this development is to bring the majority of the school’s accommodation onto a single site and within a single building.

“This removes the disruption and lost teaching time resulting from the need to transfer between the two existing sites between lessons.

“It also reduces the safety, security and safeguarding risks for students during transfer.”

The authority also said it would mean the original building can be kept in use.

Senior planning officer Peter Herbert admitted the school would be a different look for the area but said any negatives about the view would be outweighed by the educational benefits of the new extension.

The plans would see around 3,500sq metres of new building spread across three floors, containing class rooms, specialist science laboratories, sixth form centre, technology workshops and art studios.

The extension would also house a performing arts hall, music rooms and recording studios for the school's 900 pupils, aged 11 to 19.

Durham County Council’s planning committee will discuss the application when they meet in Durham at 2pm on Tuesday (June 17).