'End of an era' as Ifton Heath primary school is demolished for £5.8m housing development

Residents described the demolition of a school as "the end of an era" as a village's "heritage" is reduced to rubble.

Ifton Heath Primary School in St Martins is being demolished
Ifton Heath Primary School in St Martins is being demolished

Work has begun to raze Ifton Heath Primary School to the ground to make way for a £5.8 million housing development.

The school in St Martins, near Oswestry, closed down in 2013 after desperate campaigning from teachers, parents and local residents for it to be saved.

However a bid for the school to receive academy status failed and primary pupils joined up with Rhyn Park School to create the all-through St Martins School. Now, almost 10 years later, demolition work has started ahead of 35 new homes being built on the site.

Resident Sue Schofield said: "There are a lot of people who are extremely sad about it here. It's the end of an era. It's one of those things where local people feel that it's the last of their local heritage being taken away.

"The majority of local people, if they didn't go there, they have family who went their. Parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents in some cases.

"It was built in 1915. It didn't quite make it to 100 years.

Boys playing cricket in the Ifton Heath playground in around 1954

"It was a significant part of village life but, since all the new homes have gone up, it's feeling less and less like a village.

"It was a mining community, and was very close knit. Villagers had their roots in mining. There were 1,000 men working there when it closed down in 1968.

"The only thing that was left towards heritage was the school. I'm really sad that more effort wasn't made to save it."

Shropshire Council's housing company Cornovii Development Ltd is delivering the new homes with McPhillips Ltd.

The council has invited guests to tour the site and learn about the development.

It will be known as Ifton Green, and will bring a mix of two, three and four-bedroom homes, and a range of styles including detached, semi-detached houses and bungalows. Thirteen of the homes will be affordable.

Ifton Heath Primary School in St Martins is being demolished

Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for physical infrastructure, said: “I am delighted to see another Cornovii Homes development getting underway and knowing that another 35 sustainable homes are going to be made available to local people.”

Steve Davenport, local Shropshire Councillor for St Martins, added: “Overton Road will offer a mix of house styles, which means a natural community will develop around the development, from young families to people looking to downsize or seeking a home for their retirement.

“The development will provide sustainable homes for local people.”

Ifton Heath Primary School in St Martins is being demolished

Harpreet Rayet, managing director of Cornovii Developments Limited, said: “McPhillips Ltd is a local contractor and has great experience working in delivering our objectives of creating local employment opportunities, delivering high quality sustainable homes and working in partnership with the local community.”

Stuart Mackenzie, McPhillips’ project director, said: “This is an exciting project and a great opportunity to expand our already expansive portfolio of work. Working locally in partnerships with local developers, professionals, subcontractors and suppliers is a positive position for us all.”

The project is set for completion in autumn 2023.

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