Consultation into future for former school playing fields in Newhaven

Surplus to requirements - the former Grays School, Western Road, Newhaven. Photo by Peter Cripps

Surplus to requirements - the former Grays School, Western Road, Newhaven. Photo by Peter Cripps

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A proposal to dispose of playing fields at a former school in Newhaven has sparked controversy given the forecast increase in houses in the town.

Cllr Carla Butler, from Newhaven, is calling for the former Harbour School site in Western Road to be used as a school as the town braces itself for almost 900 more homes.

But East Sussex County Council said a new primary academy opening in Newhaven in September 2015 would help address problems, adding it was forecasting a shortfall in reception aged children.

Cllr Butler said: “I had requested that the decision to dispose of the land should be delayed till the review of predicted shortfalls of Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision be completed in spring 2015. A major review of SEN places across the county is about to take place which will provide more definite evidence of where shortfalls of places might be predicted in the future.”

Cllr Butler said it made sense to retain the building as a school, rather than bulldoze it for housing, but children’s services said there was no need for extra SEN spaces in that location at this time.

A spokesperson for the county council said: “In Newhaven we have forecast a reception year shortfall of one form of entry for 2014/15 and 2015/16 and a shortfall of around two forms of entry for 2016/17.

“In the long term, we forecast a shortfall of around one form of entry.

“A new one form entry primary academy is due to open in the town in September 2015 which, we believe, will address the need for places in Newhaven in the medium to long term, although it may be necessary to create a bulge reception year class at an existing school for September 2016 to address the predicted additional one-off pressure in that particular year.

“While the land in Western Road has been declared surplus to requirement, there are currently no plans in place for its future. Any proposal will be subject to public consultation through the planning process.

“A great deal of work goes into advanced planning for school places in East Sussex and we have a four year rolling school organisation plan which ensures we have sufficient school places for the projected numbers of pupils.”

A consultation into what the playing fields could be used for is underway and will close on December 12. To take part visit https://consultation.eastsussex.gov.uk/