Thursday 23 May 2024
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New Nottinghamshire estate primary school dropped because of lack of demand

A new primary school at Gedling’s 1,050-home Chase Farm development will no longer be built due to a lack of demand for places.

Cash allocated for the 210-place school will instead be used to tackle pressure in secondary education, including support for an academy’s expansion.

The new primary school was promised during the planning process for the major housing development at the old Gedling Colliery site.

Developer Keepmoat Homes pledged to provide £3.6m in contributions towards the school, which would have been based on the development itself.

However, Nottinghamshire County Council has now written to the developer, Homes England and Gedling Borough Council to confirm plans for the school have changed.

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The council says the Chase Farm development would generate enough pupils to sustain a primary school but there is no “projected need” for a new school.

It expects there to be enough supply for places across the borough after the creation of the new primary school at Stoke Bardolph’s Rivendell development.

However, the council says Chase Farm is putting “increased pressure” on secondary education and will instead use this £3.6m to increase spaces.

In the letter, the council said: “Pupil demand forecasts indicate there will continue to be a sufficiency of primary school places over the next five years, adequate to accommodate the remainder of housing planned at Chase Farm.

“This change in requirement is a result of a decline in demand across Nottinghamshire and an increase of supply in places locally.

“However, ongoing development at Chase Farm and the surrounding area is now placing increased pressure on secondary school provision.

“There is forecast to be insufficient secondary school places in the locality to accommodate the projected housing growth.

“The council has funded a 300-place expansion of the Carlton Academy, which was completed in 2020, and is presently working to deliver a further 450 places at Carlton-le-Willows Academy.

“The county council, therefore, does not require the site which has been reserved for a primary school.”

Councillor Michael Paye (Lab), deputy leader of Gedling Borough Council, has hit out at the primary school not being built, describing it as “unforgivable”.

Cllr Payne, who is also the county council member for Arnold North, said: “It’s bitterly disappointing and utterly unacceptable.

“Conservative-run Nottinghamshire County Council has reneged on its promise to build a new primary school on the Chase Farm housing estate in Gedling.”

Speaking in Thursday’s county council budget meeting, he added: “A few years ago I was accused, alongside former MP Vernon Coaker, of scaremongering about the lack of secondary school places in Gedling.

“We were told this ‘simply is not true’.”

The council says it has a team of place planners who have forecast education needs for several years and determined there’s no need for a new primary school.

Cllr Tracey Taylor (Con), the cabinet member for children and families at the council, added: “Pupil place planning demands are constantly evolving, with ebb and flow between the primary and secondary phases.

“Officers are only permitted to seek developer contributions based on forecast needs at the point in time that a planning application is being considered.

“Assessments first made in 2016 and reviewed in 2020 were correct, and plans made accordingly.

“Likewise, in light of the latest information regarding likely pupil place need, officers are making appropriate plans and corresponding with the developer and the borough council as part of this process.”

The authority says the school would cost more than £10m to bring forward in total, which could instead be used to tackle pressures in secondary education.

The ongoing expansion of Carlton le Willows Academy, in Gedling village, is expected to lead to the first larger intake of Year 7 pupils joining in September.

The £13m project will include new buildings and refurbishments, 29 new classrooms and a ‘state-of-the-art’ dining hall.

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