Thu, 19 Jul 2018
A DEAL has been struck that will provide Newbury with an urgently-needed new primary school and a crucial access road into Sandleford.
West Berkshire Council and Newbury College had been locked in negotiations over constructing an access road to the school, Highwood Copse, within the college grounds.
The school will be accessed from a new road off the A339.
With negotiations stalling and time running out, the council had threatened to walk away from the discussions if an agreement could not be reached by 4pm on Monday, saying that there would be insufficient time to deliver the project.
And, following an 11th-hour council meeting last week, an agreement has now been finalised between the two parties.
The 210-pupil school will be sponsored by Newbury College and built within the grounds to the south of the facility.
The council said it hoped that Highwood would welcome its first intake of children at the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year.
Responding to the crunch meetings, the council’s executive member for education, Lynne Doherty (Con, Northcroft) and executive member for highways and transport Jeanette Clifford (Con, Northcroft) said in a statement: “We are very pleased to be working with the college on this important project.
“Working with the strength of collaboration, we can look forward to making this much-needed and beautifully-designed school a reality.”
Newbury College chairman of governors Geoff Knappett said: “We are delighted to receive sponsor status for the new school on our site.
“Working in partnership with West Berkshire Council, we will provide significant expansion to the local education provision and necessary school places for the children of south Newbury.”
The new access from the A339, to be built close to the recycling centre, will also serve as a fourth access route into the proposed 1,500-home development at Sandleford Park – something the council insists is vital to mitigate the extra traffic.
The council noted that there was also a risk of the Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) pulling its funding for the road if it did not have confidence of an agreement being reached.
The LEP has committed £2m towards the road, supported by £400,000 of council funds.
One of the Sandleford developers, Bloor Homes, is also required to make a contribution.
The council said that the college had agreed to gift the land, but later said it would not transfer the freehold or the leasehold.
The college had sought a development agreement, ensuring the road becomes a public highway following its construction.
Construction work to deliver the new school is expected to start next month.