Land deal for new secondary school for Northampton in bid to plug shortage of Year 7 places

Town short of spaces for 150 pupils in 2021/22 onwards

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 3:12 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 3:35 pm
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Northamptonshire County Council will enter into a 125-year lease for land with the Department of Education to allow the construction of a new secondary school in Northampton.

The cabinet member for finance has approved the authority to enter into an agreement for lease as a shortage of 150, year seven school places was forecast from 2021/22 onwards.

At a cabinet decision making meeting on Monday (March 29), the cabinet member for finance, councillor Malcolm Longley, approved the recommendation to approve the council entering into an agreement with the DfE subject to it obtaining planning consent.

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The DfE needs to obtain planning approval for the new school before the council will grant a 125-year lease at a peppercorn rent to an academy school trust on land known as Wantage Farm in Moulton.

During the meeting, it was revealed surveys are taking place at the moment and planning application submissions were on schedule.

A council report states the development of the new secondary school will attract in excess of £25m of investment into Northampton. The costs of the proposed development site will be covered by the DfE.

It stated the council identified a future shortage of places for secondary school children in Northampton. It stated: ‘This shortage of places is forecast to equate to approximately 150 year seven places in each academic year from 2021/22 onwards.

‘For the avoidance of doubt there is no other manner in which NCC or the West Northants Council will be able to meet the demand for secondary school places without a new DfE delivered secondary school.

‘And without a new school delivered at the Wantage Farm site, there is a clear and immediate risk of NCC and WNC failing in its statutory obligations of providing a sufficient number of school places in this area of the county.’

In the meeting, councillor Longley, said: “I think 6.1 (of the report) says it by not moving forward, NCC will not have enough sufficient school places.

“The only question I would have on that is the one on planning, knowing how difficult that can be from personal experience.”

James Aldridge, group asset manager at the authority, said: “Planning hasn’t been agreed yet. The site itself isn’t a designated site so the DfE will have to go through the usual planning process through Daventry planning department in the usual fashion.

“But essentially this lease will take over as soon as they’ve got the planning and they’ve got the agreement to move forward this lease will automatically kick in to allow them to build the school on site.”

Cllr Longley asked: “Are you confident that the planning isn’t going to get a hitch in that and we’ve got plenty of time to see that through I’m guessing.”

Mr Aldridge said: “I think there’s plenty of time, I would never say the planning will go through without a hitch because obviously it’s a defined process.

“They are on site doing surveys at the moment so they are on schedule to get applications in when they need to get applications in.

” And then obviously it will be up to the West Northamptonshire council’s local planning committee to determine whether that’s the right application or not for that site.

“Daventry will decide whether that application’s got merit and whether they wish to approve it. Clearly if they do approve it then the 125 year lease kicks in and the DfE can go and build a new secondary school which is, as you say, much needed.”

Cllr Longley asked: “Is there any additional cash required from us?”

Mr Aldridge replied: “No, at the moment the majority of the funding comes from the DfE.”