THE University Cathedral Free School will ‘revitalise’ Abbey Square.
That’s the view of Peter Howell-Jones, Vice Dean of Chester Cathedral, who is delighted the plans have been given Government approval.
The primary school is a joint project between the University of Chester Academies Trust (UCAT) and Chester Cathedral.
The proposed school building in Abbey Square, which was built by the cathedral in 1754, has been unoccupied since about 2000.
Mr Howell-Jones said: “I am delighted that our school has been approved.
“The University Cathedral Free School will allow us to revitalise some of the 18th century buildings in Abbey Square.
“This will bring lively activity back to this beautiful part of Chester as well as providing a first class education.
“This is the first step in the regeneration of the Cathedral Quarter with more to follow in the future.”
UCAT chief executive officer, Dr Colin Hankinson added: “The UCAT team is absolutely delighted that our proposal to establish the University Cathedral Free School has been approved by the Department for Education and we look forward to working really closely with the cathedral and the local community to make it the outstanding success.”
The school will initially open to 60 pupils and increase by 30 children a year until 2018 when it will house a total of 210.
It will specialise in all forms of music and singing, with the option of pupils having up to six hours music and vocal tuition every week.
The school will have seven classrooms and four ‘break out’ rooms, used for staff meetings or extra tuition, spread over three floors. A lift in the building will be maintained.
There will also be a library, art and science facility, IT suite and music practice rooms.
The cathedral’s refectory could be relocated so it can be used as a school hall, although at this stage it’s just an option being explored.
The Dean’s Field will be turned into a playing area for sports use while there are plans to utilise university facilities, such as the pool for swimming.