A County Durham school’s buildings affected by RAAC will be demolished as part of a major redevelopment. 

Hundreds of students at St Leonard's Catholic School, Durham, have been taught in temporary accommodation since the discovery of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in 2023. 

Since RAAC was discovered on site, the buildings have been deemed unsafe. 

Now, Durham County Council has approved a planning application to start the demolition. 

St. Leonard's Catholic School, DurhamSt. Leonard's Catholic School, Durham (Image: St. Leonard's Catholic School, Durham. Photograph: Stuart Boulton.)

The majority of the school’s existing buildings will be demolished, except for Springwell Hall and the Sixth Form building, which are unaffected by RAAC. They will be retained as part of the new development.

Read more: The Northern Echo manifesto: Exam mitigations for St Leonard's, Durham

The new school site will include a sports hall, assembly hall, and dining hall as well as a wide range of departments, including specialist teaching spaces for art, technology, and music at ground floor level.

In addition, general teaching spaces for Maths and English, and the other core curriculum subjects including science labs will be provided on the upper floors. The plans aim to create a coherent ‘campus’ feel.

BAM Construction Ltd will build the new school campus. 

Demolition work is due to start in the coming weeks and into the Summer holidays. Demolition of the EFAB Building will commence in August 2026 after asbestos removal.

But one household, which lives next to the school, warned of being surrounded by building works. 

A demolition plan of the school building's A demolition plan of the school building's (Image: BAM Construction Ltd)

“We are concerned that the second demolition of buildings, close to the eastern exit, is not to commence until August 2026. Whilst this may well relate to the continued need to use the classrooms it begs the question of whether any other options were considered. 

“At the end of the planned second demolition, the development will have been underway for over two years. If County Hall is also to be demolished during this time it will only exacerbate the feeling of being sandwiched between building sites.”

Residents, including the City of Durham Trust, also objected to the amount of trees due to be felled as part of the demolition works. 

Recommended reading: 

Don't miss out on the latest news and stories. Subscribe to The Northern Echo now for less than £5 a month.

Speaking after the plans were submitted in May, Labour candidate for City of Durham Mary Kelly Foy praised the work of pupils, parents, and staff. 

She said: “This new, impressive school will be the silver lining to a RAAC-loaded cloud that has hung over St Leonard's for the last 9 months. While the Government chose to treat the plight of our young people with complete indifference, the pupils, parents, and staff showed great resilience when school life was turned upside down. 

“I was proud to support them at the beginning and I'll continue to be by their side to the end.”