Fears over proposed sites for new schoolBy Jon Nurse
October 10, 2012
Tempers flared after rumours over the location for a new town centre school spread “like wildfire”.
The council revealed eight potential sites to cope with demand for primary school places to parents, but officers were forced to calm fears after neighbours were ‘misinformed’.
Families living in Heron Road near Heron Park in Woosehill received mystery leaflets, from an unknown source, warning them Wokingham Borough Council intended to use the park to build a new primary school.
Brian Grady, the council’s strategic commissioner for children, young people and families, told a packed meeting at Woosehill Community Centre that land in Heron Road was just one of the eight sites and far from the preferred option.
Mr Grady said: “Anxiety has spread like wildfire. We go out with information to residents when we feel we have something that is real.
“Maybe we have created anxiety in a way we didn’t intend to and we now want to manage that. We don’t think Heron Road would work. "We feel Smiths Walk [in Woosehill] looks like a strong option.”
At Thursday’s meeting, parents discussed the merits of the sites in Smiths Walk in Woosehill; Heron Road in Woosehill; Chestnut Park in Chestnut Avenue; land near Chestnut Park in Chestnut Avenue; a free school with focus on the former Whitehouse School site in Finchampstead Road; Buckhurst Park in London Road; Vikings Field in Reeves Way; and Latimer Road Recreation Ground.
Mr Grady faced questions from frustrated residents who were unhappy that only parents had been consulted, which fuelled concerns from those who felt out of the loop.
Peggy Priest, of Saturn Close, Woosehill, said: “As a resident that lives near Heron Park, I feel just because you’re not a parent doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to get news about it.
“A hundred parents may say they want a school in this meeting, but residents want to have some say about it.”
Mr Grady added: “The next critical stage is talking about the sites and that will involve talking to residents more than parents.”
The council aims to identify a school to govern a split school site by November, with site selection and planning application set for autumn, building work beginning in the spring and the school open in time for September.
The meeting was shown a design of the style of building the school would probably take, made of factory built units with a wooden exterior.
Claire Bagshaw, 33, of Norfolk Close, said: “It’s been very informative as it’s only been hearsay previously. People have been talking about it for a while. It was good to hear other people’s point of views.”
James Pedder, 39, of Culloden Way, added: “There is still a lot of uncertainty for me and that’s not necessarily where the school is, but who the governor is going to be.”