by Ruth, Marlene, and Steve on 8 November, 2016
After a lengthy search across the borough for all possible sites for a new secondary school, Sutton Council will be proposing that part of the tennis centre and the disused all weather pitch in Rosehill Park be used to build the second new secondary school which is needed by 2019/20. This follows an extensive consultation on the Local Plan which looked at all available school sites.
It is very clear that we cannot avoid building a second new secondary school in the Borough. This is after the one proposed for the ex-Sutton Hospital in Belmont, work on which will start next year. By 2020 there will be an additional 450 pupils coming through to our secondary schools. These pupils are already in our primary schools, and it means that we need two new schools. The Belmont school will provide 200 of these places. The remaining places will need a further, second school. All new secondary schools have to be established as free Schools, by Trusts, not by the Council. Greenshaw Learning Trust has had approval from the government to set up a new school in Sutton, subject to a site being found.
Earlier this year the Council consulted as part of the Local Plan on possible new sites for schools. Council officers have considered dozens of possible locations. Their remit has been to find sites as far as possible that are: owned by the Council; close to where the schoolchildren live; capable of being developed within the timeframe needed; and not on open green space.
It is clear that the growth in the number of schoolchildren is in the Sutton area. This is where the biggest growth in primary age pupils has occurred. Also there is continuing home building around Sutton Town Centre. The first new school, in Belmont in the south of the Borough, will take some of this pressure, but even though we have good neighbouring schools in Greenshaw and Glenthorne, more provision needs to be made in the north of the Borough. The local plan consultation considered the following sites:
None of these sites could be available within the timeframe, except for Collingwood Recreation Ground, which is a green field site and does not have suitable access for a school.
In addition to these sites in Sutton, other sites around the Borough have been investigated. This search has not found a suitable site which is available, owned by the Council and is not open green space.
Ruth, Marlene and Steve say: ‘We are very aware that the proposal to put the school in Rosehill Park attracted considerable opposition when it was the subject of consultation. We have been working over these past few months to avoid needing to put a school on the park. However, despite all the work that has been done, an alternative site has not been identified. We are opposed to any further development of the open green space on the park, but a new school built on part of the tennis centre and the disused pitch has to be considered, provided that all the school facilities including play space and parking are contained within that site, and it meets planning requirements for design, traffic and parking. It is particularly important that we preserve the areas of park land to the south of the all-weather pitch, the public tennis courts, the bowling green and the land adjoining it, and the cricket pitch as open public space, as well as all the parkland to the north and east. But as councillors we have a legal duty to provide school places, and there is no credible alternative option’.
The recommendation will now be considered by the Council’s Housing Economy and Business Committee on Tuesday 6 December. If it is approved, it is expected that the proposal will become part of the draft Sutton Local Plan, on which there will be further consultation early next year. In the meantime, the Greenshaw Learning Trust are expected to develop their plans for their new school and to submit a planning application. Ward councillors will support residents in ensuring that any new plans do not encroach upon the open green space of Rosehill Park, which we know is valued by all.8 Comments