End of an era as Kettering school demolished to provide housing and new community centre
The school started life as an 'Open Air Recovery' school and its sports hall will provide community space
A Kettering school that was originally built to educate infirm and sick children from the town has been demolished to make way for a proposed housing development.
Planning consent will soon go in to Kettering Council for 14 homes - seven two and three-bed bungalows and seven four-bed houses - on the site straddling Beatrice Road and Britannia Road, home to the former Maplefields School which was previously known as Orchard School.
But not all the buildinga are to be knocked down as the school sports hall and outside court have been retained and will be renovated to provide a much-needed community centre and car park.
Permission for a change of use had already been granted by Kettering Council to turn the freestanding sports hall that was once part of Maplefields School into a new community base for residents of the Brambleside and All Saints area.
The facility, to be known as Maplefields Community Centre, could be up and running as early as September depending on Covid.
Ward councillor Lesley Thurland, who is secretary of management committee Maplefields Community Association, has welcomed the demolition and development of the land.
She said: "The community centre is the result of a lot of hard work by people who haven't given up. We have had highs and lows but it is so exciting that it is happening.
"It's the end of an era for the site but the start of something new. It started off as a community school and it's ended up as a community centre. We are absolutely thrilled."
The site, sold off by Northamptonshire County Council, has been out of use since 2012 when the school relocated to Corby. Planning permission was granted in 2016 for the housing.
Chris Wardrop from Market Harborough-based developers Castlegate Developments said: "They are to be high-quality family homes and much-needed bungalows. Most developers don't build bungalows.
"We've got a lot of support for the development and it will be much improved. Nobody wants a derelict building next to their house. We're glad to get on to the site and clear it."
The clearance, carried out by Kettering-based demolition experts BlueSky, will feature on TV channel Discovery as part of their Scrap Kings series.
A film crew was on site to capture the building's final moments that will be aired this spring as part of series four.
Charlie Oulton, producer/director, braved the foul weather to film the demolition action for the popular TV show.
He said: "It's a battle between a man, materials and a machine. We like to follow interesting characters and the amazing looking machines - it's also good to see the bystanders' reactions.
"We can bring the audience on site for the demolition experience. We depend on the demolition guys and Nye the owner was amazing."
The community centre, that will cost £50,000 to set up with services and the cost of the building, will have its own car parking and will be open to all members of the community with interest already been shown from groups wanting to hire it.
It will have separate male and female changing rooms, a reception area and a large main hall. There will be 16 parking spaces, plus five disabled spaces and bike and motorbike space.
The planning permission permits the centre to open from 9am to 9pm Monday to Saturdays and from 10am to 4pm on Sundays.
Once the utilities have been connected, work will start on the community centre to fit it out for users.
Cllr Thurland added: "We already have the promise of a kitchen from Howdens and a disabled toilet package from City Plumbing but we are looking for volunteers.
"We need a heating engineer, and electricians. We also need suitable furniture.
"I would like to thank James Aldridge from Northamptonshire County Council who batted for us the whole time."