Project Update The former Aspire Academy in Bispham Road
What's been happening?
Demolition crews have been working to flatten the old Bispham High School since the first week of January. Work was set to take around four months to complete and cost around £350,000. Very little now remains of the once popular school, which closed in December 2015, when pupils at Aspire Academy moved into new buildings in nearby Blackpool Old Road.
Why knock it down?
Since closing, the school had been a magnet for vandals. Police officers and firefighters had been called on numerous occasions to youths on the site, who had been seen climbing on rooftops and starting small fires, including to abandoned gym equipment and bins. The council said ‘damage and disruption’ had been caused by several trespassers. That led to security patrols being increases, which meant money being spent on an empty site. Councillors agreed to demolish the building late last year after hearing the cost of securing and maintaining the site had reached £60,000 – on top of the £99,000-a-year business rates.
So what’s next?
The council said it will retain ownership of the land, though a proposed use has yet to be identified. One suggestion could be to use it for Blackpool’s new 48-place special school, which was green lit by the government earlier this month. However, The Gazette understands the site is not one of the proposed locations being kept under wraps by town hall officials. A spokeswoman yesterday said the demolition is around 90 per cent complete, and should be finished by the end of next month.
Were any other options on the table?
Councillors did consider only demolishing part of the building, or none of it at all. Consideration was given to the potential need for school places in the future, but the town’s long term needs will be met when the Fylde Coast Academy Trust (FCAT) opens the Armfield Academy in Lytham Road, South Shore, next year.