Future of new village school still in doubt

JPCT 02-06-12 S12230604A   Shelley Primary School, Broadbridge Heath  -photo by Steve Cobb ENGSUS00120120206172737
JPCT 02-06-12 S12230604A Shelley Primary School, Broadbridge Heath -photo by Steve Cobb ENGSUS00120120206172737

The creation of a new school at a Broadbridge Heath development is still in doubt after councillors met to discuss the issue last night (Monday March 7).

Despite expectations of a big crowd only eight members of the public attended the village’s parish council meeting at St John’s Community Hall.

Last month the County Times revealed plans to relocate Shelley school and expand it on land set out in the new Wickhurst Green development had been dropped by West Sussex County Council due to a ‘prohibitive’ cost.

Last night the Parish Council met to discuss the issue and invited Graham Olway, principal manager for capital planning and projects at West Sussex County Council, along to explain the council’s decision.

Mr Olway confirmed the council was unable to fund the relocation and expansion of the school due to the amount of funding it received from central government.

He said plans were in place to talk to Shelley about increasing the number of pupils at the school and improving facilities to cope with the expansion.

He added the County Council had also made a ‘strong case’ to the Department of Education to try and fund the creation of a new two form academy in Wickhurst Green. But Mr Olway warned the government body may not approve its bid and if it was approved there was a possibility the new academy may not be built on the site originally planned for Shelley’s relocation.

Councillors expressed their disappointment raising issues over Section 106 money - Money contributed by developers to improve and create local facilities - and asking why the County Council had not informed them earlier in the process that it would not be able to fund the relocation of the school.

They were also concerned about what would happen to the land set out for the new school if the Department of Education decided to build the academy elsewhere.

Full report to follow.

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