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Theale villagers voice support for new school

Plans for 'much needed' replacement school get thumbs up from majority of residents

John Herring

Reporter:

John Herring

Theale villagers voice support for new school

THEALE residents are showing their support for a much- needed new primary school in the village.

West Berkshire Council has said that it risks losing £7m of government funds to replace the school, which is rated by Ofsted as outstanding, and is oversubscribed.

However, Theale Parish Council has yet to decide whether it will relinquish five acres of land at North Street playing fields as the site for the new school.  

As reported in last week’s Newbury Weekly News, Theale Parish Council objected to the new school plans as it felt the district council had failed to provide adequate information.

Concerns about traffic and the impact on children’s safety led parish councillors to their objection.  

And while villagers recognise the urgent need for a new school, they are divided over the chosen site. The application has attracted 65 letters of support and 13 objections

One resident said: “A village such as Theale should have a primary school that is big enough for all of the children of the village, this is of huge benefit to the cohesiveness of a community.

“The current school is of inadequate size and facilities for the number of children who attend. They deserve so much more, a school building and playing fields that suit the outstanding teaching provision they receive. These plans deliver this.

“I think the location is ideal and is such that many families can continue to walk to school.

“I do not think the traffic will be any worse than the traffic at the current school, possibly better as it may discourage use of Englefield Road as a rat run. I hope this project can continue with a few delays as possible.”

Sam Kahliq said: “Securing the best for our future generation is vital, especially in a time when nationally the government is making so many cut- backs that are impacting our children’s future education, for example the possible closure of libraries, children centres etc.

“We/you have an opportunity to provide a much-needed service for the children of Theale, one that is well overdue.

“The school has been doing so well with such limited space; and as a result resources too... imagine what they could do with a new school that will not constrain or inhibit their abilities to get the best out of our future children.”

The management committee of Theale Village Hall, which lies opposite the proposed school, has objected to the plans. 

The plans include removing a hedge to provide footpaths for parents and children. However, the committee said that the land was part of a deed of gift to the village hall and that it had not received any correspondence from West Berkshire Council to discuss the land ownership.

The committee also objected to parents potentially using the private car park as a drop off and pick up point, and that parents would block the car park entrance:  “This arrangement would endanger pedestrians walking between parked cars, and negotiating cars accessing/exiting the car park.”

A final decision will be made by West Berkshire Council and a decision is expected to be made by Thursday, June 23.

View the application entering 16/00724/COMIND into the council’s planning website.

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