CIVIC chiefs last week agreed a multi-million-pound funding proposal that will pave the way for major redevelopment works at a secondary school in Whitchurch.

Hampshire County Council approved a proposal for the internal alterations and external recladding of an existing teaching block at Testbourne Community School.

The project, with an estimated cost of £3.15 million, was given the greenlight at the executive member for education and skills Decision Day meeting in Winchester on Wednesday, September 18.

The proposed work relates to the school’s two-story SCOLA teaching block which was built in 1970. It includes replacing windows, cladding and brickwork with a new aluminium cladding system, a new roof with thermal insulation, internal refurbishments to modernise the facilities and the removal of asbestos and upgrade of fire precautions.

Recladding works are proposed as “a number of the building components are reaching the end of their useful life”, while the internal alterations will make the space ‘better-suited’ to the needs of pupils.

The report outlining the project added: “The works will significantly improve the building performance and the quality of the internal environment and comfort in the teaching spaces.”

It continued: “The internal alterations will alter the location, size and configuration of a number of the teaching and ancillary spaces to better suit the requirements of the curriculum and the needs of the pupils.”

Work is expected to begin in the spring of next year with a view to being completed by the summer of 2021.

Temporary classrooms will be installed on the site to facilitate the project and ensure the school can continue to teach a full curriculum. The statement regarding the decision adds that alternative bids for the funding were received and evaluated, but were unsuccessful.

Councillor Roz Chadd, Executive Member for Education and Skills at Hampshire County Council, said: “It is very important that we keep on top of maintaining our school buildings as part of a planned programme of works.

“The County Council is also taking advantage of Government grant and private sector developer contributions specifically to improve the condition and suitability of school buildings.

“I was happy to agree that the refurbishment should go ahead at Testbourne School, particularly as there are a number of additional benefits this will bring in terms of energy efficiencies, as well as the opportunity to make changes internally to improve teaching and learning spaces to better suit the school’s requirements.

“I was equally pleased to see that this work can be carried out without any disruption to the students’ education.”