Thu, 23 Aug 2018
WORK to build a new primary school in Newbury is under way.
Construction started on the new Highwood Copse primary school, based within the grounds of Newbury College, this week.
The 210-pupil school, sponsored by the college, will welcome its first intake of pupils at the beginning of the 2019/20 academic year.
Last month, the council threatened to walk away from negotiations with the college if talks over land ownership did not reach an imminent conclusion.
But following an 11th-hour meeting, an agreement was reached between the two parties.
West Berkshire Council executive member for education Lynne Doherty (Con, Northcroft), and executive member for highways and transport Jeanette Clifford (Con, Northcroft) said: “It is very exciting to have ‘cut the turf’ on this important project.
“We are very pleased to be working in collaboration with the college and look forward to seeing this much-needed and beautifully-designed school become a reality.”
The council said that 495 primary school places had been allocated when current capacity stood at 489, demonstrating the need for the new school.
It added that local schools are at capacity, with no room for expansion.
Highwood has the potential to expand to take 420 pupils, should demand for places continue.
The council had planned to open the school this September, but later postponed the opening until September 2019 following “high increases” in build costs from its appointed contractor Kier.
“Potential legal delays” were cited as another reason
Newbury College Corporation chairman Geoff Knappett said: “These are exciting times for the college.
“As sponsors of the new school, we are delighted that work has now started on this significant expansion to the local education provision and necessary school places for the children of South Newbury.”
A new access road will also be created off the A339 in order to serve the new school, which will also link to the 1,500-home
development proposed for Sandleford.
The new access from the A339, to be built close to the recycling centre, will serve as a fourth access route into the proposed development – something the council insists is vital to mitigate the extra traffic.
It has been made possible with the assistance of £2m from the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.