A DATE has been set for the demolition of a 100-year-old former school building in Cleckheaton, which campaigners have been fighting to save.

Education bosses behind the replacement of Whitcliffe Mount School in Cleckheaton have confirmed that the work to knock down the original Foundation Building will start in earnest next week.

Meanwhile the stripping out of the old school building and more modern extensions is already underway.

Spen Valley Civic Society and a group of campaigners had been hoping to save the Foundation Building from demolition, which has been empty since September when pupils and staff moved into a replacement school building on the same site.

Developer Laing O'Rourke is to demolish the old building as part of its contract to construct the new building, and once this has been done part of the footprint will be turned into sports fields.

The remainder will be handed over to Kirklees Council in a land swap agreement and the authority is then expected to sell the land for a housing development.

But campaigners have long held that its is Kirklees Council's insistence that the plot be "unfettered" by buildings that is driving the demolition and called for the authority to step in.

At debate last month, Council leader David Sheard said he was prepared to help facilitate a discussion but the Council could not be held financially liable.

Erica Amende, of Spen Valley Civic Society, said they had almost given up hope, but are pleased that a plea for parts of the building to be donated as a memento is to be looked at again.

They had initially been told that the demolition subcontractor had already arranged buyers for the materials, she said.

She added that it was clear from developers that had recently come forward interested in redeveloping the Foundation Building, that the site was worth more if the building remained.

She said: "From Spen Valley Civic Society’s perspective, the campaign has proved that our Foundation Building, paid for by Cleckheaton people, and currently owned by a charitable Trust, is not a worthless liability, but a financial asset worth about £400,000.

"This proof comes from the valuations and offers made by the developers the campaign identified. Their valuations were very close and concurred that the site without the Foundation Building was worth about £150,000, whereas with the Foundation Building intact on the site, it was worth £550,000 to £600,000."

She added that this financial asset was being given free by the school's trustees to Laing O’Rourke and their demolition subcontractor and that developers have estimated that the materials are worth at least £100,000.

In addition she said a Victorian foundation building at another school in the £150 million Government contract to rebuild seven schools in Yorkshire was also due to be demolished in a similar move. The oldest part of Oakbank School in Keighley, Haggas House, will be demolished once the new school building opens at Easter next year.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “The pre-requisite work to demolish the Foundation Block commenced on the 16th October. The physical demolition is scheduled for the 6th November, subject to a number of factors.”