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Head's concerns over retirement homes bid

Worcester Editorial 18th Jun, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

A HEADTEACHER has slammed proposals to transform a college campus into £6million retirement home complex and said it could cause ‘immense problems’ to his school.

Developers McCarthy and Stone want to create 60 apartments at the site of Worcester College of Technology’s Art and Design School, which is due to move into the Russell and Dorrell building later this year.

But Ian Taylor, headteacher of the Riversides School, has raised a series of concerns about the proposed development on Barbourne Road.

He said his school, which caters for children from seven to 16 years old with behaviour, emotional and social difficulties (BESD), had an agreement with the nearby college to use a building at the rear of the site for PE classes.

However, the proposals include the demolition of the building to make way for a car park, which Mr Taylor said would leave them needing to find a new venue to play sport.

“Sport is a particularly vital component of a BESD school’s curriculum as not only does it give us the chance to discuss healthy lifestyles in an increasingly unhealthy world,” he told the Observer.

“But it is especially important for pupils whose home lifestyles and opportunities to engage in sport are considerably lower the average young persons.

“Sport is also used as a way of relieving pent up pressure and aggression in a structured manner which is imperative for these pupils, so the demolition of the sports facility will cause the school immense problems.

“Firstly, finding somewhere locally where the pupils can do PE which does not waste curriculum time transporting pupils to and from the venue and secondly any additional costs.”

Mr Taylor also described the possibility of having a retirement home as neighbours as ‘the worst use of land’ as he believed it would lead to conflict between the residents and the school.

“We deal with a very small, sharp end range of children and my concern is that the elderly residents may, on occasions, put themselves in a position where they could be verbally abused,” he said.

“I am not trying to demonise the children we deal with because they are not like that and it wouldn’t be a regular occurrence, but there is a possibility they could come into conflict.”

Darren Humphreys, regional managing director at McCarthy & Stone, said they had held a consultation event in December 2012, which saw more than 80 per cent of people who attended support the scheme.

“The proposal site has been identified by the council for alternative uses, including residential,” he said.

“We are very encouraged by the positive feedback we’ve received to date from the local community about our plans to sensitively redevelop this site with much needed accommodation for older people.”

Members of Worcester City Council’s planning committee will make a decision on the scheme, which has been put forward for approval, tomorrow (Thursday).

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