Kirklees Council is to press ahead with plans to demolish the former Almondbury Community School to build a new special school.

The old school, which closed in 2020, will be demolished along with the swimming pool and sports centre on the site and a building currently used by a private pre-school.

Back in 2021 it had been hoped that the sports centre and swimming pool might have been kept open for the local community but budget pressures means that’s no longer possible.

The purpose-built special school, for children and young people with complex communication and interaction needs, will be a new home for Woodley School & College, which will move from Lowerhouses.

The council says the new development will provide a bespoke, high quality school for children and young people with special educational needs, greatly improving on the school’s current facilities and allowing it to increase its student population. A consultation is currently being held around these additional places.

Of the buildings to be demolished, the sports centre is currently disused and Almondbury swimming pool is not open to the public. Alternative locations were recently found for swimming lessons and club activities during a temporary closure.

The council is also working closely with the private pre-school to explore options for the continuity of its services.

The clearing of the site is currently set to begin in summer 2025, allowing construction of the new school to follow. The council aims to complete the build in late 2026.

Clr Elizabeth Reynolds, Cabinet member for learning and aspiration, said: “As a council, one of our ongoing major priorities is making sure children and young people have the best start in life.

“We have a continuing commitment to providing excellent education for those with special educational needs, and this development is a crucial part of that.

“Woodley School & College already provides extremely high standards of care for its students. As well as improving their facilities this development will allow more students to benefit from these high standards without needing to travel outside of Kirklees.

“These plans also support the council’s current budget aspirations, as many of the buildings affected are currently disused and would require a funding injection of millions to make them sustainable in their current form.

“This change of use for the site will bring great benefits to all our students and their families. What we have here is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create something quite exceptional for our students, which will be bringing these benefits well into the future.”

Kirklees Council is also planning another new special school on the site of the already-demolished Deighton Centre in Deighton. This will be for the Joseph Norton Academy, currently based at Scissett.