Consultation over plans to expand schools

Crawley Down Village C of E School (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150911-161238008

Crawley Down Village C of E School (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150911-161238008

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An increase in pupil numbers has seen plans produced to expand one school in Crawley and another in Crawley Down.

Northgate Primary and Crawley Down Village School have been named alongside two schools in Haywards Heath which West Sussex County Council would like to expand from September 2016.

Northgate Primary School (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150911-161144008

Northgate Primary School (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150911-161144008

In addition there are proposals to build a new school – Hurst Farm Primary, in Haywards Heath – by September 2019.

If the plans are approved, Crawley Down will take in an additional 15 pupils per year while Northgate will take in an extra 30.

Welcoming the possibility of expansion, Oliver Burcombe, headteacher at Crawley Down, said: “I feel very strongly that we need to meet the needs of the village. With the village growing, it’s very important to provide the education space needed.”

Georgina Beaven, headteacher at Northgate, added: “We recognise the pressure on school places in Crawley and we are trying to work closely with the local authority to ensure the basic needs of the area can be met.”

Two drop-in sessions have been organised to give parents and members of the community the chance to ask questions about the proposals.

The Northgate session will take place on Thursday (November 12) from 3.30-6pm at the school in Green Lane, Crawley.

The Crawley Down session will be held on Monday (November 16) from 3-6pm, at the school in Hophurst Drive, Crawley Down.

The need for extra school spaces across the county has been increasing over the past few years as more and more housing developments are built.

A spokesman for the county council said projections from the Department for Education showed that, by 2023, the number of primary aged pupils would be 9 per cent higher than it was last year.

Councillor Jeremy Hunt, cabinet member for education and skills, said: “The Crawley and Mid Sussex areas are served by a large number of highly-regarded and successful schools.

“The county council has been closely monitoring the number of children in these schools to make sure they can meet the demand for places. We have received evidence of further growth in the number of children. This is in part due to an increase in the birth rate and also in response to migration and house building.”

The county council has published a consultation document laying out its proposals.

For both Northgate and Crawley Down, the issue of increased traffic was recognised as a potential problem – with Northgate in particular having “significant traffic implications”.

The consultation document stated travel plans would be considered “in depth” should the decision to expand be made.

Both sites would require building work, though, due to the space currently available in the school, Crawley Down’s would not be necessary for the first year.

When it came to Northgate, the county council predicted that, once the building work was complete, the school would also keep the temporary classrooms currently on the site but they would be put to another use.

The spokesman added: “These plans do not impact on the nursery on the school site other than where it is located on the site.”

Once the consultation is completed, the final decision about whether or not to expand will fall to the governing bodies.

Mr Hunt added: “We would like to know whether there is support for these proposals. I urge everyone to read the consultation document and write to us with your views.”

To read the consultation documents, log on to haveyoursay.westsussex.gov.uk .

The consultation will end on November 30.

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