A SCHOOL in a Victorian conservation area has added a new sports pitch to its site.

The astroturf addition to the Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio is on a redundant tarmac car park.

The partially-covered multi-use games area (MUGA) will enable the school's more than 200 pupils to follow a range of sports.

The studio school in Police Street, Darwen, is part of the Aldridge Education multi-academy trust.

Principal Colin Grand said:“The five-a-side pitch and exercise equipment is a much welcomed addition. Students can now benefit from high-quality facilities during their lunch time to play ball games and also use the exercise equipment. I would be keen to see the facilities accessed by the community at some point in the future.”

School ambassador Hollie Holden from Year 11 said: “It’s great to have a space outside that is really usable. Before this we just had a yard area, now it’s green, healthy and professional. It really improves the lunchtimes we have.”

Fellow school ambassador Darla Walsh said: “We feel really lucky to have this set up in our yard area. Before this was built it was just an open space that didn’t have this sort of structure to use."

Darwen West ward's Cllr Brian Taylor said: "This is excellent news because we know how much physical exercise helps all aspects of the health of young people. It is much to be encouraged."

A report by planning officer Claire Booth recommending Blackburn with Darwen Council to approve the scheme says: "The Enterprise Studio dates from the late 19th Century and is an imposing building, formerly used as providing lodging accommodation.

"The proposed site space is not in my view a positive one and does not exhibit any key characteristics which define Darwen Town Centre Conservation Area.

"The area seems to be an underused car park and is largely a hard-surfaced rear yard.

"The new MUGA (which includes enclosing fences and roof netting), outdoor gym area and new canopy area sits behind the frontage buildings and will largely be unseen

"The MUGA will be approximately 20metres by 10metres and be enclosed by 4m high fencing.

"The cover to the kick-about area will be 6m by 8m. It will have a maximum height of 4.9m.

"The proposals have been advertised and 10 neighbours were consulted by letter. No representations have been received."