Mixed reaction to new school

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A consultation into proposals to build a new primary academy or free school on land close to Ingrams Way in Hailsham has sparked a mixed reaction from residents.

The consultation by East Sussex County Council was launched after Wealden District Council unveiled its Strategic Sites Local Plan which will see around 3,000 homes built in Hailsham.

Because of the increased number of children new housing will bring, the county council successfully bid for Government funding to establish a new primary school in the south of the town at Ingrams Way.

The consultation received three responses from educational organisations interested in running the school. Academies and free schools are independent and not maintained by the local authority. But the county council said the consultation which ended on Friday (September 27) saw a mixture of responses with some residents supporting the proposal and others raising concerns.

A spokesman for the county council said: “The majority of concerns raised related to parking and traffic issues. Residents will have another opportunity to comment on the proposals when the scheme goes through the statutory planning process. All the bids [to run the school] will be submitted to the secretary of state by October 18. The council has the opportunity to state its preferred bidder, based on criteria such as educational vision and ability to deliver their proposal on time and on budget.”

If successful the one form of entry, 210 place school will be built by 2015.

But Cllr David White, chairman of Hellingly Parish Council said he opposed the plans claiming the school willbe too small and in the wrong location to meet the needs of the town. He said the proposed site provides poor accessibility for the majority of the town’s residents and the site had previously been considered when the district council began work on its local plan in 2003 but this was rejected because the spot was deemed too small. Cllr White said the school would be best on a site north of the town because that is where the majority of housing will be built.

He said Hellingly Parish Council agreed a better option would be to rebuild Hellingly Primary School into a three form of entry school on a site North of Hailsham. Cllr White said: “The priority now should be to make the best use of the resources available to deliver a long term sustainable solution to the present problems.”

Cllr White said the parish council would like to speak with the council and discuss the best place for a school. But the county council said a subsequent phase is planned for a new two-form entry primary school in the north of town at a later date.