Spelthorne Local Plan - Preferred Options Consultation: Policies and Site Allocations

Comment ID pol/491
Document Section Spelthorne Local Plan Preferred Options: policies Infrastructure and Delivery Policy ID1: Infrastructure and delivery View all on this section
Respondent Iceni Projects (Maddi Simpson) View all by this respondent
Response Date 21 Jan 2020

The Need to Deliver Schools

The Preferred Option consultation document doesn’t consider where schools will be delivered to support the delivery of housing in the borough. The delivery of a school is one of the most important pieces of infrastructure that can be provided within a District, yet this area of development is often overlooked. The delivery of significant levels of new development and family homes will also drive needs for new and expanded schools, yet the Local Plan makes no provision to meet this need.

One benefit of a Green Belt release strategy is that it can allow the delivery of high quality infrastructure such as schools to accommodate housing growth in the Borough.

The southern area of the LDF landholding has the potential to accommodate an extension to the existing Bishops Wand School to the east as part of a wider redevelopment of the area. The school is operating successfully in this location and already has an aspiration to expand; therefore, the site is well suited to provide an extended school which would meet the need created by new development in the District.

Up until now, the Free School Programme has been heavily funding the delivery of new schools, with 442 schools open and a further 262 in the process of opening since 2010. The Free School Programme now appears to be decelerating and in the future it is expected to be smaller and focused on assisting with Government objectives of improving social mobility. This does not mean that England does not need more schools; housing targets in new Local Plans will create a need for new schools. Such as in Spelthorne where new development creates a need for more school place.

This policy change will also have wider ranging implications for both local authorities and developers when identifying new sites. Local authorities will need to be robust when identifying where schools will be located and the level of growth they will need to meet. The feasibility of new schools will require proper testing at Local Plan stage as Central Government will no longer provide a fallback position to deliver schools on a windfall basis. This requires the Local Plan to be proactive and identify school sites or expansions to support housing growth.

We therefore consider it essential that Spelthorne identify the total need for pupil places created by the housing growth and a commitment to identify sufficient sites to meet this need as well as delivery mechanisms. Failure to do so could leave Spelthorne in a position whereby they cannot deliver sufficient school places as they do not have sufficient land or funding.

Greenfield sites in particular can provide larger school grounds with a greater range of recreational facilities on site, which makes the southern parcel of the LDF landholding appealing when deciding where to focus this type of development in the Local Plan. Expansion in this location would provide new buildings and further recreational facilities.

We would also add that Bishop Wand School is performing well and its expansion would provide a logical and sensible way to help address increased pupil yield from housing growth within the District. The Council will need to be proactive to ensure this need is met and properly funded through the Local Plan. The allocation of land to the South of draft allocation HS2/012 (as per the masterplan options in Appendix A2) would provide an opportunity which allows the school to expand and potentially an element of cross-subsidy. We consider that this would represent Exceptional Circumstances for the release of the site.

Proposed Change