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First look at Carlisle's new Richard Rose Morton Academy

This is the first glimpse of what Carlisle’s £26 million Richard Rose Morton Academy could look like.

Morton academy graphic
Artist's impression of how the Morton academy could look

It proposes to boast timber cedar cladding, a biomass boiler to generate heat and a wind turbine – modern methods used in a bid to be as environmentally-friendly as possible.

School chief Mike Gibbons said the moves could help cut at least £24,000 from the academy’s energy bills each year – the equivalent of employing a teacher.

The Wigton Road complex would also include parking, drop-off areas and laybys for staff, parents and coaches using the site every day – suggestions it is hoped will help alleviate concerns over the use of a slip road close to neighbouring homes.

The innovative building is based on a two-wing design, linked by a large glazed main atrium.

One wing will include a range of classroom spaces, some with partitions that can be flexible to create new learning areas.

The other will contain more static learning spaces such as technology workshops, a 400-seater theatre and a sports changing area.

The building, 18 metres tall at its highest point, will also have a rooftop classroom, giving panoramic views across the city and over to the Lake District.

Landscaping will include an outdoor ‘ampitheatre’, gardens and a pond.

A special service road, linked to Queensway, will ensure contractors do not use the main Wigton Road entrance while building work goes on.

Proposals are expected to be submitted to Cumbria County Council in a month’s time.

Work could start by Christmas if the plans are backed by councillors in November.

The aim is for the new academy to be open in 2011.

Architects and builders behind the plans last night held their final public meeting before the bid is submitted and about 20 people turned up.

Concerns were raised about noise from the proposed wind turbine, which is expected to be located in the centre of the academy’s large site, and the possibility of overshadowing of nearby homes by the larger building, that will be sited closed to Wigton Road than the current school.

Neighbours spoke too of long-standing concerns about the use and dangers of the slip road close to the entrance.

It is used by drivers and coaches as well as cycling children at the start and end of the school day.

Mr Gibbons, chief executive of the Richard Rose Federation which runs the academy, also allayed fears over whether the project was ‘General Election proof’, adding it was ‘signed and sealed’.

Mr Gibbons told the audience: “This is a big opportunity for us.

“I really can’t remember the last time £26m was spent on education in our community.

“There are three things we want to achieve with this academy.

“First and foremost we want to provide an education that is fit for this wonderful resource so we raise aspirations of our young people to a level that has never been seen before,” he said.

“We also want it to be a building for the community – it is there for everyone to use, not only the young people. We want to be good neighbours.”

Tony Mills, chairman of the academy’s Parent Voice, said: “It is a fantastic opportunity for the young people of this community now and in years to come and it will be a great asset to this community.”


A public meeting unveiling the latest proposals for the new build of the West Lakes Academy in Egremont takes place at the school tonight at 7.30pm.

Have your say

all looks very nice but the childrens! education must be first priority, my child has had numerous teachers last year. This has not changed since The Morton school days. Children need the same teacher to stay with them at school for the whole year tearm. Very upsetting

Posted by jo on 6 January 2010 at 22:58

Is it any wonder that Carlisle is considered to be lagging behind many other Cities of a similar size when all we get are the usual Anchor Draggers who just don't want or like change. This is a fantastic opportunity for the city and should be grasped with both hands.

Posted by Carl Scott on 16 July 2009 at 12:13

View all 11 comments on this article

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