Sites chosen for new Wokingham primary schoolsBy Jon Nurse
December 13, 2012
Education bosses have picked their top sites for new primary schools to tackle demand for places but are expecting opposition from neighbours.
Winnersh Farm, Smith’s Walk in Woosehill, and East Park Farm in Charvil have been named as the locations to help create more than 150 new places by September.
Wokingham Borough Council’s decision-making executive is expected to approve the Primary Provision Strategy action plan for 2013/14 which includes the sites, at its extraordinary meeting on Tuesday.
The report also reveals The Piggott School in Wargrave would run the Charvil primary.
Six school locations are recommended in all, including the development of a one-form entry primary school in the south west of the borough as part of Shinfield SDL (Strategic Development Location), plus the expansion of Shinfield Infant and Shinfield St Mary CE Junior School and Grazeley Parochial Primary School.
The plans, which are the culmination of six months of consultation involving 1,500 people, would cost £13.35 million over the next three years.
Councillor Charlotte Haitham Taylor, executive member for children’s services, said: “This has been a challenging process, balancing the views of parents with those of residents.
“We’ve had to ensure these sites best serve the families who need them, while also looking at the existing infrastructure, ways to minimise traffic impacts and the best sustainable development options for each area.”
The council hopes the Winnersh Farm, Smith’s Walk and new Shinfield SDL schools, will be run as academies or free schools and hopes to confirm education providers by Tuesday, January 15. But councillors are also expecting a backlash from the proposed sites’ neighbours.
The report states: “The Winnersh Farm scheme received some support from parents, but has aroused some opposition from residents in the immediate vicinity who would need to be fully involved in the next stage of planning and implementation.”
Neighbours close to East Park Farm in Charvil also “expressed strong concerns about the development” according to the report, which states community involvement would be needed to reassure residents.
As the Piggott School is an academy the Secretary of State for Education needs to support the proposal for it to run the Charvil site.
Piggott headteacher Hilary Winter said: “This is a once-in-lifetime opportunity to establish a new school in purpose-built accommodation fit for purpose in the 21st century.
“These are particularly tight timelines but I am confident that we have both the will and expertise for this to be successful.”
If the executive endorses the strategy, planning applications for the sites will be submitted by December 31 with work expected to begin in March.
Parents applying for a primary place in one of the affected areas are advised to check for latest developments ahead of the deadline on Tuesday, January 15.