LIPA plans significant expansion

More than 100 new student places could be created if a major expansion of a city performing arts school is approved.

Plans have been lodged with Liverpool Council for a potential three storey extension at Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) Sixth Form college on Upper Duke Street. After a successful bid to the UK Government, funds have been made available for the site to grow.

As a result, sprawling proposals have been put forward for expansion of the performing arts and music learning centre.

Based on the site of the Liverpool Institute for Boys on Mount Street, LIPA opened its doors to its first intake of students in 1996. Sir Paul McCartney had been aware the building, which had been his own school, was falling into disrepair and sought to give it a new lease of life alongside Mark Featherstone-Witty, who helped set up The Brit School.

The site forms part of the LIPA campus and is currently hard standing and car parking. The existing building was developed as an educational building in the 1970s and later extended in 2016 to provide accommodation for the newly formed LIPA Sixth Form College.

Planning documents said the free school and college made a successful application to the Department for Education Post 16 Expansion Fund in November 2022 and have been awarded the largest allocation nationally, equating to half the national total fund available. A design and access statement said: “The scheme seeks to accommodate an additional 110 learners as an extension to the existing building and as part of the overall LIPA campus on Upper Duke Street Liverpool. 

“The development is supported by an onsite disabled parking and bicycle storage with the site otherwise designated a ‘car free’ environment.”

It is thought the three-storey extension would accommodate space for a further 110 students with “particular regards to Music, Acting and Technical Theatre & Design.” The statement added that it would also “provide specialist accommodation appropriately colocated to ensure environmental performance and improved utilisation/ functionality” as well as providing “an improved entrance, social and student hub facility.”

This would include seven new music practice rooms and a live music space, with the extension wrapped around the existing Willy Russell Studio Theatre. A date has yet to be confirmed for the plans to be considered by Liverpool Council’s planning department.

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