Up to 20 new schools could be needed to cope with population growth in Norfolk over the next 10-15 years
- Credit: copyright: Archant 2013
More details have been released about up to 20 new schools which could be needed across Norfolk over the next 10 to 15 years because of new housing and population growth.
Councillors approved a growth and investment plan in January, and next week will hear that the council currently has £72 million of funding in place through a mixture of government funding and contributions from the developers of major housing projects.
The council has broken the expected areas of growth into three areas: three 'major strategic locations' which will need more than one new school, 13 'development locations' where a new school is anticipated, and a further 13 'planning areas' where schools may need to be expanded.
The major strategic locations are Sprowston/Old Catton/Rackheath/Thorpe St Andrew, Thetford and Attleborough.
Proposals to replace the current primary school in Trowse, near Norwich, because of pressure from new housing, have already provoked fierce resistance from villagers.
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Mick Castle, cabinet member for education and schools, said: 'We have to ensure school places are available as new housing becomes available or as the population in local areas increases - that is why we have recently built a new school at Cringleford and have created new places at several schools across the county, such as Costessey and Rackheath. There is more expansion in the immediate pipeline, such as a Catton Grove in Norwich
'We will also continue to bid for additional funding, where it may be available, to support urgent projects at existing schools. We have already been successful in securing investment for extra places at Chapel Road, which needs to be rebuilt to support the future needs of its pupils.'
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One new secondary school is likely to be needed in north east Norwich, although its location and timing will depend on where the rate of population growth is highest.
Primary schools are likely to be needed in Rackheath, Sprowston, Thetford, Attleborough, Wymondham, Cringleford, Hethersett, Bradwell, Fakenham, central Norwich, Trowse, Long Stratton, close to Wisbech, Costessey and King's Lynn.
The report to Thursday's Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Panel also outlines a series of expansions to existing schools.
Of the major development projects, 12 are already in the preparation stages and have funding allocations.
However, the report warns: 'At present a key risk is securing land for necessary expansion and the ability to secure planning consents on expanding the building footprint on constrained school sites.'
The process of commissioning the new schools will need to start early next year. By law, the local authority must seek proposals for a free school or an academy when they believe there is a need for a new school in its area.