PLANS for a new school to enable Newbury to cope with increasing demand are set to be approved tonight (Wednesday).
West Berkshire Council had recommended that its plans for a 210-place pupil primary school on land south of Newbury College be passed by members of its western area planning committee.
The plans for the school, to be called Highwood Copse, also include a proposed 26-place nursery.
If approved, the school will be in close proximity to Sandleford Park, a site where it is planned to build up to 2,000 new homes.
But the council says that the new school is separate to Sandleford and insists the proposals have been put forward to ensure that there are sufficient places in Newbury and Greenham.
“The new school is required as all existing schools in the locality are at capacity with no further room for expansion,” council documents state.
“The demands arising from the Sandleford development and any education mitigation required as a result will be considered as part of the assessment of applications relating to the Sandleford development.”
The school has the potential to expand to take 420 pupils, should demand for places continue.
The council intends to open the school in September 2018, starting with an intake of 30 foundation pupils and increasing to 30 pupils year on year until the school reaches capacity. It will employ 23 full-time members of staff.
A temporary access road to serve the school during its construction phase and first two years of operation will be built through the existing college site that connects into Monks Lane.
The council said the new road and junction would not only serve the school, but potentially form one of the accesses into Sandleford Park, should plans be approved.
Highways officers have said that the proposals would have a severe impact on the northbound carriageway of the A339, already busy at peak periods, and would further increase queues.
Newbury Town Council raised no objections and said that the school would provide “a much-needed two-form entry primary school for local residents”.
The town council added: “Access from the A339 and by pedestrians from Monks Lane will avoid the problems which other schools encounter of parking by parents in nearby roads.”
But objections have come from Greenham Parish Council, which feels the school would create overdevelopment, access issues and loss of amenity.
A statement from the parish council in response to the application says: “The council is particularly concerned about access to the school both from cars and by foot and cycle. Proposed access to the A339 is considered dangerous.”
See next week’s Newbury Weekly News for a full report of the meeting.