'I don't think that you could have a better school': New Northampton secondary lease re-agreed by council

Parish councillor described having to cross busy road as 'extremely dangerous' for pupils but academy trust insists it will be 'outstanding'

Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 5:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 5:04 pm

A new secondary school on the outskirts of Northampton is a step closer to being built after the council re-agreed to lease the land to the eventual operators.

West Northamptonshire Council's cabinet granted a 125-year lease for the land near Moulton to the trust behind Northampton School for Boys at a meeting last night (Tuesday, September 14).

A Moulton parish councillor expressed their opposition to the scheme and a Northampton School for Boys Charitable Trust representative insisted the new school would be 'outstanding'.

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A 3D render of how 'Northampton School' near Thorpeville would look once complete. Photo: DPP Planning

Cabinet member for education, Fiona Baker, said at the meeting: "In September 2022, I need to find those places for children to go to school.

"This is going to be a very good school, a very good trust running the school and I don't think that you could have a better school if you were going to have one.

There is a significant need for secondary school places in northern Northampton and meeting that need through expansion of existing schools is unlikely to provide sufficient suitable capacity, according to a report published ahead of the meeting.

The Department for Education and Education and Skills Funding Agency have agreed to provide £25 million for a new school for 1,200 students, operated by Northampton School for Boys Charitable Trust.

Several sites were considered but Wantage Farm came out as the most credible to the government, which needs secure title to the land before handing over the money, hence the lease agreement.

The old Northamptonshire County Council had already agreed the lease but the new local authority had to give it fresh consideration.

The results of a consultation held in August show most locals who responded supported the need for a new school but they did not feel the 24-acre plot near Thorpeville was the right place for it.

Cabinet member for transport, Phil Larratt, said the planning process would address many issues, especially traffic, and a 'fit for purpose' system would be created for parents dropping off and picking up their children and for pupils crossing the A43.

Parish councillor Yvonne Swallow said the council is concerned about the extra traffic the scheme will create and its impact on the roads and A43 roundabout, which would make it 'extremely dangerous' for pupils walking to school.

Parishioners are also worried about the ecological impact the new school will have on the neighbouring wildlife site and asked why the land could not kept as a green space, she told the cabinet.

"Moulton Parish Council is against the development of a school on this site in the village. This site is in Moulton, not Northampton, and it is Northampton that requires a new school, not Moulton," the councillor said at the meeting.

Oliver Harris, from the academy trust, said concerns over issues like transport and the impact to local residents 'matter to them' but it would be impossible to make a secondary school inconspicuous to residents.

He pledged to make the Saxon Park housing development the school's primary catchment area to maximise the number of children who can walk to school and to care for the environment.

"Just because NSB is highly regarded, we do not see it as a given that Northampton School will be the same," Mr Harris said at the meeting.

"For this to happen, we will need the support of the community, of the people of Moulton and especially of this county.

"Not just by voting tonight to lease this land, but in the planning process and in delivering Northampton School on time.

"By ensuring that this school gets every support it can be given, you will be helping to ensure it has every chance of success.

"We will then do everything in our powers to make this an outstanding school in every respect. This is what the children of Moulton, and Northampton, deserve."