New North Horsham secondary school could open by 2020

North Horsham site (photo from HDC planning portal). SUS-160408-161431001
North Horsham site (photo from HDC planning portal). SUS-160408-161431001

Horsham will welcome a new secondary school by September 2020 if plans for a sustainable new live, work, play community to the north of the town get the go-ahead from Horsham District Council.

So said masterplan developer Liberty Property Trust as it this week submitted a planning application for the major development.

Andrew Blevins, managing director of Liberty Proterty Trust (submitted). SUS-160408-155642001

Andrew Blevins, managing director of Liberty Proterty Trust (submitted). SUS-160408-155642001

The new secondary school – partly funded by Liberty from an overall infrastructure and community benefits package of around £50 million – will feature in the early stages of the 2,750-home North of Horsham development and sit within a new education campus, the property trust said.

Designed from an early stage to be a key feature of the masterplan, the new campus will also include a primary school, as well as catering for ‘early years’ and pupils with special education needs.

Andrew Blevins, managing director of Liberty, said: “It’s not often you hear about good things coming early with large-scale new communities but we understand that the secondary school is a priority for West Sussex County Council. Therefore, we will open up the site from the start for them to have the school up and running by 2020.”

Liberty says that with pressure already on school places locally, North of Horsham provides an opportunity to deliver a comprehensive education solution and West Sussex County Council (WSCC) is prioritising delivery of the new secondary school to help meet this important need.

Likely to be a ‘Free School’, it will cater for 900 pupils and have the potential to expand to 1,200 pupils in the future if WSCC, which is responsible for education in West Sussex, needs to create more school places to meet wider district needs.

Liberty will help to pay for the new secondary school buildings and facilities, as well as providing some land for the new school. Liberty’s contribution will meet projected pupil numbers from the North of Horsham community itself and Liberty is also making land available to WSCC so it can build the bigger school if needed.

The new secondary school is included in Liberty’s planning application for North of Horsham, which was submitted to Horsham District Council (HDC) this week following many months of technical work and discussions.

Liberty says the wider development is set to deliver up to 4,000 job opportunities within a high-quality new business park; local centres with shops and other amenities; a new doctors’ surgery; a community hall; indoor and outdoor spaces for relaxation and play; landscape and ecological enhancements; and significant investment in new and improved roads and transport facilities.

The 2,750 new homes will range from one-bed apartments to five-bed houses and include a broad mix of housing types and tenures to meet local needs, providing affordable options for local people looking to rent or buy.

Mr Blevins said: “We’re delighted to have submitted our planning application. We said last year that we were going to get the application right and that is exactly what we’ve done.

“Through our detailed and ongoing discussions with the district and county councils and many other authorities, we’ve made sure that the application addresses all of the factors relevant to the North of Horsham development, so that a fully informed decision can be taken.

“We’ve also made sure the new community is well connected with the existing town and delivers the best possible benefits for local people.

“With a mix of new homes to meet local needs and high-quality new business space to attract major occupiers, North of Horsham is essential to the future prosperity of the district.

“It will provide homes and jobs for local people in the long-term, as well as creating a wider customer base and increased footfall for shops and businesses in the town centre and beyond.”

Liberty says the range of housing options and tenures has also been tailored to address affordability issues, with up to 30 per cent (825) of the new homes specifically allocated to meet local housing needs. Delivery of the final five per cent is directly linked to the overall success of the development, as the sale of land to homebuilders and the take up of business space funds the overall community benefits package.

In addition to homes for private sale, the new community will include homes for people to rent from a housing association at a discounted rate, alongside shared ownership options and homes first-time buyers can purchase at a discounted market value – a key Government policy for increasing home ownership.

Commenting on the infrastructure and amenities needed to support the new homes and the business park, Mr Blevins said: “We know from our consultation last year that this is a key issue for local people and we’re absolutely committed to putting this in place at the right time so we don’t increase the burden on existing facilities.

‘‘For example, we’re helping deliver the secondary school early to meet local needs because we can and because it’s the right thing to do.

“We’ll be putting in place all of the primary roads within the development and we’ll also be paying to improve the A264 and other roads and junctions in the local area. We’ll improve local bus services and we’re safeguarding the land for a new parkway train station, which our plans will help to make a reality.

“The HDPF Planning Inspector described North of Horsham as ‘one of the most sustainable locations’ and with these improvements, we’ll make it even more accessible and successful.”

Other key elements of the Liberty funding package for North of Horsham will include contributions towards: primary education, ‘early years’ and special education needs, as well as sixth form provision; on-site sports and play facilities for people of all ages and a contribution to improve existing indoor facilities in the town; healthcare and delivery of an on-site medical centre; a community centre within the development; the land for these uses where they are provided on-site.

The Liberty planning application is registered with reference number DC/16/1677.

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