THE new primary school at Sandleford Park will help Newbury stay “ahead of the game” in providing education places as the town’s population continues to grow.
That was the opinion of Newbury Town Council’s planning and highways committee, which backed plans submitted by West Berskhire Council (WBC) for the new 210-place school in south Newbury.
Further pressure is expected to be heaped on Newbury’s infrastructure, with a number of housing developments in the pipeline, including the recently-approved 157-home estate to the north of Pinchington Lane, the 71 homes planned for the site opposite the former Greenacre Leisure Centre in Greenham Road, and the proposed 2,000 homes at Sandleford Park.
With this in mind, town councillors welcomed the plans for the single-storey school.
Speaking at the committee meeting at Newbury Town Hall on Monday, Lynne Doherty (Con, Northcroft), who is also executive portfolio holder for children and young people on WBC, said: “I’m happy to say this is the new primary school which will provide sufficient spaces in Newbury south.”
“It’s completely independent of the Sandleford development,” she added.
When asked what the catchment area would be, Mrs Doherty said: “It will take on quite a lot from the new developments around Greenham and south Newbury, where schools are already at capacity.”
Elizabeth O’Keeffe (Lib Dem, Victoria) welcomed the plans, saying: “As a governor of a primary school we are very aware of the pressure on school places and we don’t want to be playing catch-up.
“I think we need to keep ahead of the game and have these sort of provisions in place before the buildings and the families arrive. The more provision we can have the better.”
Jeff Beck (Con, Clay Hill) agreed, saying: “I personally feel we should welcome this development.
“As has been pointed there is going to be a very great need for education places for our children.”
Ms O’Keeffe also said the parking at the school was an “added bonus”, adding: “Many of our schools are in places where neighbours become irritated by parents parking in the area at pick-up and drop-off times and this is somewhere that won’t have that effect.”
The committee resolved to support the application.
If approved, the school will be called Highwood Primary and built on land adjacent to Newbury College and includes car parking and soft and hard play areas.
A 26-place nursery is also required as part of the project.
It is intended for the new school to open in September 2018, starting with an intake of 30 foundation pupils and increasing by 30 pupils year-on-year until the school reaches full capacity.
In addition, there are expected to be up to 23 full-time members of staff.
The plans will also include a new junction with the A339 (although not all funding has been secured yet), which will also be used by the Sandleford development if that application is given the go-ahead.