Sutton Council purchases Belmont site for new secondary school

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

Carshalton High School for Girls: Sports Hall Building Plans Update

chsg-logo-printAlan, Jill and Hamish as the local councillors received a letter a few days ago from the headteacher of Carshalton High School for Girls which we have been allowed today (12th September) to publish:-

Dear Councillor

I am writing in response to the article relating to the proposed sports hall at Carshalton High School for Girls outlined in a recent edition of Focus.

Context

The school has been bidding for funding to improve and upgrade the facilities at the school for many years. In comparison to all other secondary schools in the local area, the accommodation at Carshalton High School for Girls is inadequate with students not having equality of access to specialist facilities as their peers do in other schools. In April this year we heard that a bid we had submitted to the Education Funding Agency on the grounds of condition had been successful and we were granted £2.9million to replace our life-expired mobiles in a new building; which includes new dining facilities, replacing the 1940’s horsa – hut at the edge of the site adjoining houses in Colston Avenue and West Street.

At the same time, for the past 18 months, we have been working with the Education Department of the London Borough of Sutton, along with all other secondary schools in the borough, to discuss expansion of secondary schools to address the extremely serious pupil place planning issues that the borough faces. It was agreed by councillors that Carshalton High School for Girls should expand by one form of entry from September 2015. However, along with the other schools expanding, and the vast majority will be expanded by 2018, even with the investment from the EFA, we have a shortage of space to provide a full curriculum for our students, and one area in particular sports and changing facilities, is particularly poor; we currently are unable to provide a full PE curriculum.

The London Borough of Sutton has therefore agreed to fund a further £2.7million to the school, to enlarge the original footprint of the new building to replace the mobile accommodation, to re-model two current buildings that stand next to each other to provide more classroom space and to build a sports hall with changing rooms.

The Sports Hall

Originally to try to attract funding for the sports hall, the school had been looking to secure grants from sporting organisations including Sport England. In order to do so the plans drawn up needed to be in accordance with the Sport England ‘Aspire’ programme and therefore of a size and standard that would meet the necessary criteria including extensive community use for evenings, weekends and during school holidays.

With the local authority agreement to fund the sports hall the need to satisfy the criteria above is no longer a requirement. The size of the sports hall itself has therefore been reduced to a standard 4 court building with changing rooms. The facilities will be primarily for school use and whilst some lettings may take place it will be in line with the type of letting programme the school has undertaken for many years, which has benefited the local community without causing the type of concerns that the newsletter article outlines.

Specific Concerns Raised

Extra Usage: As outlined above the sports hall will be primarily for school use. The facilities included will limit how it can be used. It is not of the size and scope highlighted in the original plans. The school currently has lettings for sporting activities such as badminton, cheerleading and Zumba. It is envisaged that such activities will continue in the vein of the current provision.

Parking: All members of the community who use the facilities will be required to park in the school car park. Some parking spaces are being created close to the new building but will be accessed from the school site and simply replace others that are being lost elsewhere as the site is re-configured. For example, there are a number of spaces around the current dining room which will be lost when the area at the back of the site is turned back to grass.

Increased Congestion: As there will be limited use of the facilities it is not envisaged that this will create significant extra congestion. Cars will enter and exit the school through the gates on West Street as they currently do and will be parked in the main school car park at the front of the building. There will not be access from Colston Avenue.

Noise: On the previous plans there was significant configured outdoor space to accommodate community use. The new plans do not have such facilities. The new plans simply replace what currently exists in a like-for-like scenario e.g. two netball courts, long-jump pit and grassed area for pitches and athletics. These facilities will be sited on the areas released by the demolition of vacated buildings.

Lettings: In line with all other schools in the area, we seek to ensure that the school is a hub of the community, enabling local residents to access specialised facilities when the school is not used by students. However, the school has total control over the lettings and has for many years taken into account the balance of opening its doors to the community, being able to generate some additional income to plough back into the upkeep of the buildings and ensuring a very positive relationship is developed and maintained with the residents who live locally. The addition of the proposed new facilities will not change that policy or ethos.

Travel Plan:The school has had a travel plan in place for several years and we were delighted this year to receive the Silver Award. There is a commitment to encourage students to walk or cycle to school and we actively discourage parents from parking in such a way that causes issues for the local residents.

In conclusion, we hope this allays any fears that local residents may have and gives an accurate picture of the proposed plans. As a school we aim to do the very best for our students. We feel that the girls have been disadvantaged for many years in terms of accommodation in comparison to their counterparts in other schools, although this has not prevented the school from securing enormous improvements in recent years. We now have the opportunity to re-dress that balance and ensure our students are learning in an environment conducive to the 21st Century. The Focus newsletter sums this up so well with the heading ‘Stronger Economy Fairer Society’; we obviously have a shared vision for young people in this area.

We pride ourselves on having been a part of the local community for years and establishing and maintaining a very positive relationship with local residents. Our recent Golden Anniversary celebrations brought many members of the community through the gates and we want to ensure that positivity is maintained and have taken this into account when formatting the plans for the new building and the sports hall.

The Chair of Governors, the Architect team and I would all be very happy to meet with you to discuss these issues further. Please do not hesitate to contact the school to speak to me or e-mail me on vjones@suttonmail.org.

Yours sincerely

Vivien Jones

Headteacher

Carshalton Girls School New Block Gets Go-Ahead

Cllr. Hamish Pollock reports: “Planning permission was granted last Wednesday (19th March 2014) when I attended and voted at the Council’s Development Control Committee for the new two storey block at Carshalton High School for Girls. The block will be built close to the boundary with the Carshalton Athletic Football Club. The block would be substantial – about 40 x 24 metres in size, and about 11 metres in height and will house the new school canteen, plus classrooms and dance and drama studios. It will be mostly painted render in appearance.”

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He adds: “The existing canteen buildings will be demolished in the south-east corner of the school grounds near the West Street and Colston Avenue junction… The committee agreed with the planning officers’ recommendations that the scheme would not have a detrimental impact on the surrounding area. A resident from Colston Avenue in favour of the development addressed the committee. Councillors present were however concerned over the proposed loss of a group of some existing hornbeam trees near the west boundary, but they were reassured that their replacement by 15 new hornbeam trees about 4 to 4.5 metres high would help to substantially mitigate this loss”.

Carshalton High School for Girls: update…

Cllr. Jill Whitehead says: “Your local Lib Dem councillors met the school head recently with residents to discuss the school plans to redevelop its site and to submit a new bid for sports facilities to Sport England. The school will shortly be submitting a planning application for redevelopment of old and condemned educational buildings in the centre of the site, to make much needed and welcome improvements to the learning environment.  These will all be one or two storeyed buildings, and will be situated away from local homes where possible.

Jill adds: Also, early in the New Year the school intends to make a second planning application which will be for an “All Weather” sports track, sports hall and netball courts, which will be reduced in scope compared to the last set of plans. These will be situated behind homes in Colston Avenue but the proposal is to shield facilities by a row of trees.  An exhibition of plans will be held shortly for residents to make comments.

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Carshalton High School News Update

chsg-logo-printCarshalton High School for Girls: Sports Plans update… Cllr Alan Salter says: “Your local Lib Dem councillors met the school head recently to discuss local residents’ concerns about plans to build new school sports facilities.  We are pleased that the school have already taken some of these on board.  The school plans to submit a new bid for sports facilities to Sport England, which will be reduced in scope and less intrusive. The school will also change the “sports entrance” from Colston Avenue (CAFC entrance) to their current main entrance on West Street and introduce some parking bays. They have also agreed to involve residents informally.