Thetford Academy granted permission to expand
Thetford Academy has been granted planning permission to start building work which will bring all 1,400 students onto one site.
The new three-storey academy, to be constructed on the north campus at Croxton Road, will bring together students from the school's current south campus on Staniforth Road from September 2013.
The site will have capacity for up to 2050 pupils in future and building work is expected to begin in March, once final approval has been given by Partnership for Schools.
Works will be completed in August 2013, with all students at the site from September 2013.
The project will involve some refurbishment of the current north campus and some demolition work, as well as the new build but constructors, Balfour Beatty, hope to keep disruption to a minimum.
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Academy principal, Cathy Spillane, said: 'We are really pleased to have secured the planning permission for this new building.
'It will provide 21st century facilities to allow us to provide a first class 21st century education for the young people of Thetford.
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'In addition, it will provide a great asset to the wider community with many new facilities they will be able to share with us.'
The new build, which is expected to make up 79pc of the site, is designed to be sympathetic to woodland surroundings and three wings at the back of the new school have been designed to maximise the views of the surrounding landscape.
A biomass boiler will be installed, as well as photovoltaic solar panels which will be fitted to the roof to generate electricity.
Sixth form students will have their own study area, while a new sports hall has been included in the plans along with separate indoor space for fitness, dance and drama, and an outdoor multi-use games area.
The site will feature a central courtyard and inside the building the main entrance will include an atrium which will be overlooked by the library, and specialist areas for design and technology, science and music. IT will be available across the whole building.
Many of the facilities will be available to the community after school hours.
David Lawrence, principal at Easton College and lead sponsor for Thetford Academy said: 'It has been a long process but now we are so much closer to the one site for the academy and the provision of a wonderful new learning environment which will benefit students and staff for many years to come in Thetford.'
Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children's services at Norfolk County Council, said the council was excited about its role as co-sponsor and added: 'We believe the academy has the capacity to not only transform the educational opportunities for young people in this area but also enrich the lives of those living in the wider community, so I am delighted by this news.'
A spokesman for Norfolk County Council added it would work with its property consultants to determine the future of the south site which it anticipated would no longer be needed by the council.
She added: 'There has been local interest in retaining the swimming pool but the technical and financial implications of this are yet to be investigated.'
Once work gets under way regular updates of progress will be published on the academy website at www.thetfordacademy.com.