A NEW multi-million pound campus will be built for Burnley’s controversial free school on the former Habergham High site.

The development will see the old school building in Byron Street demolished and replaced by a new three-storey structure.


The new building will have space for up to 650 pupils at Burnley High School together with provision for a sixth form.

The free school has proved controversial since it was set up in September because other schools in the town have hundreds of vacant places they are struggling to fill.

Some Burnley councillors have described it as a waste of money and damaging to the education of the town’s youngsters.

The announcement comes weeks after the school submitted plans to extend it’s stay at it’s existing site at the Parkhill Business Park.

Earlier this year plans to move into the former Habergham school building suffered a setback after a concrete slab under the site covering a mine shaft was discovered to be deteriorating.

However the grant from the Government will be used to make the site safe as well as construct the new school.

The school, which is run by the Chapel Street family of schools, opened with 33 pupils and is due to grow by around 90 students in September with the possibility of 90 more the following year.

Executive principal Elizabeth Haddock said: “The timetable for the project is still being discussed in Whitehall and costs are being finalised.

“At this stage no figure has been put on the rebuild.

“In the meantime work will carry on in preparation for an expansion of our temporary school at the Parkhill business complex in Padiham Road.”

Burnley High’s head of school, Dawn Forshaw, said: “Ten weeks ago we were very disappointed when we learned we would not be moving from our current home at Parkhill in September.

“But the news that we are to have a completely new school has banished the disappointment and filled us with excitement for the future.

“We are looking to welcome up to 90 new pupils to Burnley High in September and this announcement is a great fillip for those new students, our existing pupils, all the families and of course, our staff.”

Burnley councillor Charles Briggs, who also serves as one of the school’s governors, said: “I think that this is fantastic news for the school and the students.

“It will be a new chapter for the school and can only be a positive development.

“The funding has been secured from the government and it will be a multi-million pound project.

“I’m going to a meeting today (THURS) to discuss the finances of the scheme.

“The school will have to send the plans to Burnley Borough Council for approval but we hope to move in as soon as possible.”

Additional classrooms, science facilities and play areas will still be installed at its current site in time for the next school year in September, if planning permission is granted.

Outdoor sports fields will also be made available at the Habergham site and indoor sports and technology will be used at the University Technical College in Trafalgar Street, Burnley.

Lancashire County Councillor Marcus Johnson, who represents Padiham and Burnley West and is also a member of the borough council, said he was unhappy that millions of pounds would now be spent on a new school.

He said: “This is completely crackers and is boarding on a criminal waste of public money.

“The government is giving these people permission on an ideological whim and it is a ridiculous plan.

“We have other derelict schools in the area so why not use one of them?”

Habergham High School was founded in 1981 from the merger of Burnley Grammar School and Burnley High School for Girls.

It was closed in 2006 when it joined with Ivy Bank Business and Enterprise College to form Hameldon Community College, in Coal Clough Lane.