Florence MacWilliams Academy has been given planning approval by Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Planning Committee this afternoon. This decision now means that the long-awaited new multi-million-pound free school, located on part of the former Longton High School site in Meir, can now be built.
First detailed plans for the proposed "Florence MacWilliams Academy" were submitted in December 2019 by the prospective school leadership team, Educo Academies. The Florence MacWilliams Academy has also been supported by the local MP for Stoke-on-Trent South, Jack Brereton, who publicly supported the bid from the House of Commons Chamber in January 2020.
The new academy is set to have a capacity for 1,150 students aged between 11-19 years, offering Stoke-on-Trent families more choice in secondary education. Bowmer + Kirkland (B+K) has been selected by the Department for Education (DfE) as the main contractor on plans to build Florence MacWilliams Academy. Following today’s decision made by the Council’s Planning Committee, it is expected that building works will begin in the new year.
The academy is set to open in September 2024 with 125 year 7 pupils being initially accommodated in temporary structures on site until full completion of the new building in 2025. This will come as welcome news to local families as there have been 163 applications already received to date. These have come predominantly from families in the Weston Coyney, Meir, and Meir Hay areas.
This will also see the creation of state-of-the-art new sports and wider community facilities for use by both the school and the wider community during non-school hours. This will mean a significant enhancement in the standards of local facilities for the community in Meir.
Jack Brereton, MP for Stoke-on-Trent South, has been working with the Department for Education, the school, and Stoke-on-Trent City Council to ensure the project’s success since 2020. Facilitating meetings both in Stoke-on-Trent and in Whitehall, London, Jack has been a driving force leading cross-organisational co-operation to ensure opening deadlines are met. Jack also ensured that the main access did not come onto Broadway but was directly onto Weston Road following concerns of residents and to minimise the impact on the community.
Jack Brereton MP has said:
“I am very pleased to see this important decision to grant permission for the new school in Meir, this is vitally needed given the huge pressure on secondary places especially in communities like Meir, Meir Hay and Weston Coyney. I have repeatedly called for the new school to ease these huge pressures locally on secondary places and I have been working closely with the DfE and the school to ensure these plans progressed to allow a September 2024 opening. I recognise some in the community have raised concerns about the impact of the development but I do believe this is the right decision has been reached that balances impacts against need. Already more than 160 children have applied to start next September demonstrating the huge demand for additional good secondary places and there will be significant benefit the local community from the new facilities which the school will provide.”
Elizabeth Clewlow, Founder and Principal Designate said:
“We are delighted that Florence MacWilliams Academy has been approved by Stoke-on-Trent City Council. Today's green light signifies a multi-million-pound investment in our city with a strong emphasis and commitment to valuing education and investing in our children's future. We very much look forward to bringing these plans to life and look forward to welcoming our founding cohort of students for September 2024.”