Reader's letter: New primary school will not be built until demand outstrips supply

From: Angela Cornford, St Leonards Road, Horsham

I have written before in April this year to the WSCT about issues with Free Schools and the then problem surrounding the withdrawal of the temporary transport to Bohunt Horsham.

The problem with the current loss of a new primary school in Wickhurst Green is connected to the same issue regarding Free Schools.

Although there is a Section 106 Agreement in place with the developers that land is set aside for educational purposes (new primary school) there is now (which came into effect this year) a condition that a new school will only be funded by the Department of Education if it can be shown that there is a lack of places.

Wickhurst Green development south of Broadbridge Heath (Google Maps)

This can be found under page six of the Department for Education's guide to new alternative provision (AP) free school revenue 2022 to 2023 dated 22/6/22 : "AP free schools are established in response to demand by local authorities and/or local schools. Evidence of this demand is needed to support the establishment of the school."

A spokesman has demonstrated that demand is already catered for elsewhere including the 420-pupil Bohunt Primary School opening in 2024 (this has been put back from 2023) in the Mowbray site. The distances that four-year olds may have to travel or that parents have the means to transport them does not seem to have been considered.

So, I am afraid that, unless circumstances change and it is found that there is no longer capacity elsewhere, albeit miles away, the primary school in Wickhurst Green will not be built. It should be remembered that it would not have been managed by WSCC anyway. The Secretary of State had already identified the Glynn Learning Foundation as the free school sponsor.

However, I would agree that this land should be held as open space for recreational or community use if it should later become necessary for a school to be built. Once the land is lost it can never be recovered. Especially as there is a proposal for 300 homes at Lower Broadbridge Farm, Broadbridge Heath.

On a somewhat lighter note, as I have already mentioned Mowbray, I have looked at the promotional literature by Cala Homes who are building properties here and I quote: "Mowbray is a new and vibrant community in the heart of West Sussex. A healthy home for families and friends. Beautifully planned and designed. Mowbray is a sustainable and compassionate new village for all. Built today, and designed for tomorrow.”

We'll wait and see!

"The name descends from Geoffrey de Montbray, who was an advisor to William the Conqueror and whose family were entrusted with the village of Horsham in the 14th century."

It goes on to say under ‘Perfectly connected’: "With Horsham as your neighbour (so it doesn't admit to being part of Horsham) there are excellent public transport connections from Mowbray to its surroundings and an excellent train service to London and the South East." (Have I missed something here?)

Googling the name Montbray reveals this name comes from Old French "Montbrae" meaning Hill and mud or slime. Not sure Legal & General would wish their development to be called Mud/Slime Hill Village.

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