Academy trust seeks permission to turn Norwich office block into school’s permanent home

Charles Darwin Primary principal Jo Brown. Picture: Inspiration Trust

Charles Darwin Primary principal Jo Brown. Picture: Inspiration Trust - Credit: Archant

The trust behind a primary school based at a Norwich office is seeking permission to use the site as its permanent home.

The Charles Darwin Primary School.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Charles Darwin Primary School.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The Inspiration Trust has applied to Norwich City Council to permanently change the use of the Rose Lane building into a primary school.

Charles Darwin Primary School opened in Charles House in September 2016 and was given temporary permission to use it as a school for two years.

On Thursday, the council's planning committee will decide whether the trust should be able to convert part of the ground floor and entirety of second and third floors to school use.

It is not clear what would happen if the bid - which has been recommended for approval by officers - is refused, though, with permission expiring in September, the school could have to find a new home.

The Charles Darwin Primary School.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Charles Darwin Primary School.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant


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Documents say the change would require 'significant internal remodelling' to create classrooms, offices, reception spaces and a hall.

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'A playground has already been created within a part of the rear car park to accommodate the small number of students currently attending the school, but this is proposed to double in size,' reports say.

Jo Brown, the school's principal, said: 'Our pupils, parents, and staff have really settled in at Rose Lane and we are glad that officers have recommended approval for the next stages of the work required as Charles Darwin Primary grows. There is demand from parents for a city centre primary and nursery, so we hope councillors will back the plans to further improve our building so it matches the high quality of the education and care we offer.'

The school's site has proved controversial, with criticisms levelled at its proximity to Norwich's clubland, its outdoor space and pollution.

Council documents say concerns over air pollution have been 'satisfactorily dealt with' - and that 'mechanical ventilation' will be used so windows fronting Prince of Wales Road and Rose Lane are not opened.

They also say the office had been difficult to let long-term, and that having a school could 'aid in the regeneration of the area'.

The Inspiration Trust's Trafalgar College, in Great Yarmouth, is housed in a former office, its Jane Austen College, in Norwich, a former shoe factory and its Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form in Norwich in a former fire station.

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