THE Hereford Academy is to be transformed after councillors agreed plans to rebuild its South Wye home.

A new school, sixth form and community building will be built in a multi-millionpound project at the former Wyebridge Sports College site in Redhill.

Sports pitches including a floodlit games area and jogging track will also be provided.

Chairman of governors Christopher Whitmey said the decision would help students’ education reach great heights.

Herefordshire Council’s planners praised the determination and belief of academy headteacher John Sheppard.

“He has done a great job in bringing the application this far,” Councillor Chris Chappell told the committee.

“The academy will now be able to compete with not only any school in the county but any school anywhere.

“It will be an opportunity for students to achieve whatever they want. But it’s also a site for the community. Nobody has been protesting loudly in Redhill and I believe that is because people see this as their academy.”

Councillor Julie Woodward said a similar development at Whitecross High School had transformed pupils’ education, and said those at the academy should have the same opportunity.

Space will be provided for 138 cars and four mini-buses.

The two-storey main building will be built so it does not overlook nearby houses.

There had been concerns raised from some residents of nearby Beaufort Avenue who said the floodlit allweather pitch may cause light pollution.

But planning officer Kevin Bishop said lights on these pitches would only be used until 10pm.

The academy will have space for 1,000 pupils when it is completed by the end of 2011.

“We’re absolutely delighted at the decision and also very happy with the comments councillors made about John Sheppard,” said Mr Whitmey.

“We hope it will provide a facility where students can reach great heights.”

He said the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, described the plans as “immensely impressive”.

The estimated £20m cost of the new Hereford Academy will be met in full by central government, which will release the money to Herefordshire Council when contracts have been signed. The income from an anonymous donation of £1.5m, made through the Diocese of Hereford, will be used to advance education for the benefit of the community in South Wye, in accordance with CofE principles.

Hereford Academy is the latest name for a school on the site following Redhill, Haywood and Wyebridge