A HUGE new multi-million pound school for 900 pupils will be run by Windsor Academy Trust – on crime-ridden land in Smethwick currently used by homeless people.

The site, formerly the Merry Hill Allotments on Perrott Street, is the location for plans to build the new secondary school Chance Academy - but it has been plagued by fly-tipping and rough sleepers have been using old allotment sheds for shelter.

Sandwell Council has now agreed to lease the land to Windsor Academy Trust - which runs five primary and four secondaries across the Black Country including Windsor High and Manor Way Primary - to allow the project to move forward to create the badly-needed school places.

The trust's chief executive is former Windsor head Keith Sorrell.

Council officers have said the new academy will help accommodate the 3,300 extra children which are expected to swell the borough’s secondaries by September 2025.

In their report, they said the site’s 118 allotments had been popular with gardeners in the past, but: “In recent years the cultivation of plots has reduced, and the site has been subject to anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping which has resulted in continual clearance and additional cost to the council.”

Education bosses say the new free school will be directly funded by the government’s Department of Eduction, which also will agree the construction budget with the trust, adding similar projects have cost as much as £20 million. 

Recommending the long term lease, officers have said: “The Schools Capital Programme has already delivered 2,385 permanent new secondary places since 2016/17.

“Three major projects to expand Bristnall Hall Academy, and complete the newly opened schools, Q3 Academy Langley, and West Bromwich Collegiate Academy by September 2021 will provide a further 990 places.”

The report adds: “Once opened the proposed Chance Academy will offer 900 secondary school places in Smethwick, an area that has consistently presented a challenge to provide a sufficient number of school places for the local community.”

It is hoped will open in September 2022.

Windsor Academy Trust already runs five primary and four secondaries across the Black Country including Windsor High School and Sixth Form, the Kingswinford Academy and the Great Wyrley Academy in Staffordshire.