Sutton Council has bought a site in Belmont from Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals Trust in order to build a new secondary school.
The council had been looking for a site for a new secondary school to open in 2017 and approached the Trust after the old Sutton Hospital site in Belmont was identified as a favoured location, linked to the world-class opportunity for developing life sciences with the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and Institute of Cancer Research.
The Trust then decided to place the site on a register for public authorities to bid for it and has announced Sutton Council as the priority purchaser in December 2014. This cleared the way for the council to start direct negotiations with the Trust to buy the site.
Since identifying the site, the council has been progressing plans by carrying out a feasibility study which has demonstrated the viability of building a school.
The site in Belmont is part of a parcel of land identified by Sutton Council, the Royal Marsden and the Institute of Cancer Research for Europe’s leading life science cluster. The ambition is to work with the school sponsor to develop the curriculum with a concentration on the life sciences – creating a ladder of opportunity for students.
The purchase of the site comes weeks after the Government approved plans for a free school to be set up in Sutton by 2017 – which is when the council predicts it needs a new secondary school to open in order to meet the rising demand for places. Greenshaw Learning Trust has been given permission to open the secondary school.
As a result of the Government’s decision, the Education Funding Agency will now decide where the free school will be built, and the council will pass on its feasibility study as part of the decision making process.
Niall Bolger, Chief Executive of Sutton Council, said:
“We are proud to have secured a site for a new secondary school. Ever since we identified the need for a new secondary school to be built by 2017, the council has been working hard to find suitable sites and develop proposals so we could move quickly once government funds are in place.
“The granting of a free school in Sutton two weeks ago means that funding is now available and we will offer this site and its feasibility study so that the Education Funding Agency can make a decision and we can have a new school in two years time.
“It is this methodical planning for school places that makes Sutton one of the best places in the country to go to school and raise a family and why our residents have been able to have the one of the highest first place preferences for school places in London.”
Peter Davies, Director of Strategy at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, said:
“We are very pleased that our selling of this part of the Sutton site has provided the council with an opportunity to invest in the education of the young people of the area. We will use the proceeds of the sale to make much needed improvements in the facilities we use to treat our patients.”
The purchase price of the Belmont site, £7,863 000, was based on a professional valuation of the site by the district valuer and was jointly commissioned by the council and the Trust.
Sutton is already known for having some of the best school provision in the country. The council has already secured £10.1m to fund the expansion of four more forms of entry (600 additional pupils over 5 years) within its existing schools from 2015.
The council has also earmarked a further five secondary schools to share 5.5 more forms of entry between them from 2016 (825 additional pupils over 5 years) – see notes to editors.
In addition, the council wants a new school to be ready for 2017.
The pressure on school places is a result of a 33 per cent increase in births since 2001 in Sutton and more people choosing to live in the borough.
In September, Sutton Council also outlined plans to expand two primary schools – Hackbridge Primary School and Cheam Common Junior School, along with a special school, Sherwood Park School.
Phase 1 of the Secondary School Expansion Programme will see five schools expand from September 2015. They are:
- Carshalton Boys Sports College (1FE)
- Carshalton High School for Girls (1FE)
- Glenthorne High School (1FE)
- Nonsuch High School (0.5FE)
- Sutton Grammar School (0.5FE)
Phase 2 of the Secondary School Expansion Programme has identified the following schools for expansion from 2016.
- Greenshaw High School (2FE)
- Overton Grange School (1FE)
- St Philomena’s High School (1FE)
- The John Fisher School (1FE)
- Wallington County Grammar School (0.5FE)
Note: 1FE = One Form of Entry which is 30 pupils in a class x 5 years