A Herefordshire village primary school is to be rebuilt after many years of wrangling.

But the school’s swimming pool will go if no new plan can be hatched to replace and maintain it.

A Herefordshire Council cabinet meeting last Thursday unanimously agreed a package of measures for the council-maintained Peterchurch Primary School in the Golden Valley.

This backs a new school building set further back from the main road than the existing one, to accommodate 140 pupils plus a further 26 nursery places within a budget of £10.9 million.

“The premises have been in a not-good-enough state for a very long time and are now in poor condition,” cabinet member for children's services Coun Diana Toynbee said.

“Discussions about its possible replacement have been going on for at least 10 years, so I’m really pleased we can now agree to implement the new-build.”


The “beautiful” new school will be built to the Passivhaus sustainability standard, and will include solar panels, natural light, “excellent” insulation and air-source heat pumps, Coun Toynbee added.

The council earmarked £5.5 million to replace the school in 2015, but this nearly doubled to the current figure in 2020 following a feasibility study. The sum will come jointly from the council’s capital reserves and borrowing.

“The funding on this project is now extremely challenging due to inflation, especially of building costs, and a consequence of that is that we do not refurbish the swimming pool,” Coun Toynbee said.

The councillors’ decision not to also rebuild the school pool gives the school and local parish council 12 months “to seek a viable arrangement to fund and maintain a new replacement swimming pool”.

Otherwise “the demolition and making good of the swimming pool site [will] be approved”, with £20,000 of the project costs already allocated for this.

Cabinet member for procurement and assets Coun Gemma Davies said: “We would absolutely welcome coming together with the community to come up with a proposal (for the pool).”

Conservative group spokesperson Coun Nigel Shaw said: “Any loss of a swimming pool would be lamentable.

“But the case for council investment in such a facility at Peterchurch would need to be countered by the need for such facilities elsewhere in the county. There should be a costs-benefit appraisal of building at other sites, such as at Bromyard where the nearest pools are 12 miles away.”

Independents for Herefordshire spokesperson Coun Peter Jinman said a pool at Peterchurch would also benefit other Golden Valley schools. “One of the best ways to get children active is swimming”, he added.

He also suggested the project “might make a useful case study to look at why it has taken so long to get to this point, and whether this might be improved”.

He added: “We will fill the school, we are quite good at breeding in that part of the world, and we already need more capacity in the area.”

The council expects to appoint a contractor by next March 2023, with the new school to open for the start of term in September 2025.

Outline permission for a new estate of up to 89 homes next to the primary school was granted the day before.

The school and parish council were asked for comment on the plans.