New homes plan for Whalley's Oakhill School

Computer image of the planned development
Computer image of the planned development

A Whalley-based school is to invest in a new state-of-the-art facility after securing an agreement to make some of its unused land available for a small housing development.

The development and sale of the eight family homes will provide Oakhill School with funds to create new purpose-built classrooms for its senior students.

It’s hoped the new facility will enable the school to widen its choice of GCSE subjects and increase its student intake.

Clitheroe-based law firm Harrison Drury and commercial property and development consultants Eckersley have advised the school regarding the development.

Leo Baron, Oakhill school governor said: “Over the 25 years since our family has operated the school, we’ve invested in improving facilities for students to ensure they have the opportunity to experience as many different academic and extra-curricular subjects as possible. This includes opening a leisure centre in 2007 that’s also used by the public.

“Funds from the sale of the houses will be used to build a student complex for our senior students which will include open-plan interactive classrooms and dedicated subject rooms for music and art. Having a new facility and wider choice of GCSE subjects will make it possible for the school to increase its student intake and to potentially recruit additional specialist vocational teachers.”

Other facilities planned include a senior library, a modern IT suite, plus a large hall for senior assemblies and creative performances.

Harrison Drury’s property team advised the school on the formalisation of a shared access agreement with a neighbouring housebuilder and will also deal with the legal aspects of the development and the sale of the houses.

Simon England, director at Harrison Drury, said: “This development at Oakhill is a positive move for both the school and community. Not only does it provide the funds for the school to build modern facilities for is senior students, it helps to meet the demand for high-end properties in Whalley.”

Mark Clarkson, director at Eckersley who negotiated the access agreement, said: “It was clear from onset of our involvement that the most effective solution would be to deliver access via the adjacent development owned by Trafford Housing Trust.

“This would most importantly minimise any disruption to the school but at the same time reduce development costs and maximise the return and therefore provide additional capital investment into Oakhill.”

The school will oversee the construction of the houses and has appointed its own site manager. Surrounding land will be landscaped and planted with trees to create a wooded area to act as a screen between the new houses and school grounds.

Leo added: “We wanted to ensure we had total control over the development to guarantee the highest standard of quality was maintained. Our conservative approach to building only eight homes ensures that the site is not overcrowded with as little disruption to both the school and surrounding community.”

Oakhill is an independent school based in Whalley offering nursery, key stage one and key stage two and senior school places for over 300 children. For the past 25 years the school has been operated as a family run, non-profit organisation owned by the Baron family. The school recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.