CONCERNS have been raised about the future of a Grade II listed building when two schools merge on to one site.

Members of Hexham Civic Society have responded to Hadrian Learning Trust about plans to relocate Hexham Middle School to the current site of Queen Elizabeth High School as part of a £37m redevelopment plan.

In a letter to the trust, society chairman Paul Wharrier asked for a commitment that the building would be well looked after once the middle school moves out in September 2021.

He said: “The trust should take rigorous steps to ensure that any purchasers of the school have the resources to maintain and redevelop the site.

“Unfortunately, Hexham has suffered from a lack of rigour from the public sector with numerous examples of heritage assets formerly in public ownership being left vacant as a result of relocation proposals – Hadrian House, Prospect House, Hexham Workhouse, etc. If the middle school becomes empty, it will need to be actively protected, for example, regularly inspected and maintained in a secure, safe and stable condition pending disposal.”

Mr Wharrier continued to say that there were also reservations about the scale of development planned at the Queen Elizabeth High School site.

The school’s Hydro building also has Grade II listed status and the society would be disappointed if the proposals would be out of place in the Hexham conservation area.

He said: “We have no objection to the demolition of the existing ‘modern’ buildings, and we welcome the opportunity for a new building that will complement Hexham and improve the setting of the conservation area.

“However, there is concern from the indicative drawings that the scale and massing of the new school would adversely affected the Grade II listed building.

“We strongly recommend that a suitably qualified conservation-accredited architect is retained to advise the design team as the scheme is developed to ensure the protection and preservation of the Grade II listed building.”

While the society has concerns about the historic buildings, it did stress that it welcomed the multi-million pound investment in education in Hexham.

In particular, the commitment to improve walking and cycling provisions for people to access the schools site was well received.

Mr Wharrier signed off his letter by saying: “We welcome the commitment from the trust to invest in Hexham and provide much-needed investment in facilities.”