TOWNSFOLK are set to benefit from new building works planned at Alton School.

A new sports centre, open to the local community in the evenings and at weekends, is at the centre of school’s masterplan for development over the next year.

The proposals also include a new school café as well as re-landscaped grounds which restore the Manor House – formerly Anstey Manor – as the “heart of the school”.

Alton School, which welcomed boys into the senior school for the first time last September, has “an ambitious plan” to build a sports centre by this time next year, providing indoor courts for a variety of sports, fully-equipped changing rooms, additional teaching space and a reception area.

It will be available for public use outside of school hours and will have disabled access.

Currently home to the Sisters of Our Lady of Providence, who are building themselves accommodation better suited to their needs, the Manor House will be refurbished for school use and restored as the entrance for visitors.

The grounds in front of it will be re-landscaped to create an informal square with a natural amphitheatre on one side. Flanking the square will be a new café, providing “a welcoming space” for parents, visitors, staff and sixth formers to meet. A car park with increased capacity is also being created, including designated space for bicycles and charging points for electric vehicles.

The plan is for the new facilities to be funded by the sale of some land for residential development. Local residents have been able to view the school’s proposals and make comments in advance of a full planning application being drawn up this February.

The associated development will include 35 new homes on two sites, consisting of 14 and 21 properties.

“As this is a consultation process, the designs shown are indicative at this stage and some changes are likely,” a spokesman explained. “Dependent on the smooth running of the planning application, the school intends to begin building over the summer.”

It will be split into two phases. The first will include the redesigned car park with increased capacity; the school square giving a formal setting in front of the Manor House; a school cafe providing a new social hub; and the new sports centre providing indoor courts for a large variety of sports, with changing rooms, teaching space and a reception area.

Phase two will include a new artificial pitch on the field and the refurbishment of the Manor House.

“It is exciting to think we should have a large indoor sports centre by this time next year,” the school added.

“There will be fully-equipped changing rooms with showers and lockers, and a reception area. Our reshaped and resurfaced car park will be in operation too – with an increased number of parking spaces and designated space for cycles.”