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Deadline for Theale to get a new primary school set

Parish council issued 'critical' date to relinquish land lease

John Herring

John Herring

john.herring@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886633

Application for Theale Primary School replacement submitted

WEST Berkshire Council’s hopes of building a new £8.2m primary school in Theale rest on a five-year dispute being settled next month. 

The council has been battling with Theale Parish Council over constructing the 1.5 entry (up to 45 pupils in each year group) primary school on the North Street playing fields.  

The parish council has raised concerns over the site, which it leases from the Englefield Estate, since the build was first proposed in 2013. 

West Berkshire Council chief executive Nick Carter has now said that the critical date for building the new school is July 31. 

In a letter to the parish council, Mr Carter said: “This date is driven by the need to achieve certainty on admission arrangements for September 2019 in order to afford time for parents to make appropriate arrangements and to enable an informed choice based on available places.

“We need urgent written confirmation from Theale Parish Council, on or before June 22, 2018, that it wishes to proceed.”

Residents voted in favour of building the school at the North Street playing fields in a parish poll earlier this year – 53 per cent for to 47 against. 

Parish councillors agreed in principle to discuss terms of sale for the North Street playing fields in April, but is yet to surrender the lease. 

The parish assured residents that it was trying to progress matters with West Berkshire Council and would follow due process and abide by all its legal obligations.

West Berkshire Council said it had agreed to purchase land from the estate and the cost will be published on the Land Registry should the deal go through. 

West Berkshire Council said that “in the unlikely event” that the school construction does not proceed, it would lease the land to Theale Parish Council on the same terms as its current lease with the estate.

Furthermore, the council has said that it will meet the parish council’s legal costs covering the surrender and exchange of the lease. 

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