£1.4m funding approved for Northamptonshire school building work to provide more space for pupils

Increasing demand on school places in growing town

By Sol Buckner, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 12:24 pm
Sponne School Towcester
Sponne School Towcester

Funding of £1.4m for building work to help provide more space for pupils at a secondary school in Towcester has been given the green light.

Sponne School in Brackley Road wants to carry out planned capital improvement work starting with the expansion of its science block.

West Northamptonshire Council’s Shadow Executive Committee unanimously approved the funding when members met on Tuesday (April 20).

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The committee approved the first tranche of Section 106 funding from the Towcester South Sustainable Urban Extension of £1.2m and release £182,942 in historic banked Section 106 contributions to the school.

It is also delegated responsibility to the executive director of children’s services, in consultation with the executive director of finance and the relevant portfolio holder, to consider the school’s request to forward fund a further £320,282 of capital improvement works for the extension of its science block against the value of the future S106 funding to be received.

Councillor Fiona Baker, cabinet member for children’s services, presented the application report to the committee. She said: “This report sets out to explain the capital improvement works that Sponne School wish to undertake and also to show how this is to be funded once approved.

“In the past, Sponne School did have an increase in their PAN (Pupil Admission Number) to help us to accommodate as many local children as possible.

“Because Towcester has a large development taking place at the moment, and this is increasing the number of young people that wish to go to a secondary school and it is the only one in the area.

“This particular extension will not increase the pupil intake further but two Septembers ago they agreed to take an extra 22 pupils which, if you bear in mind, next September will actually be an extra 66 pupils taking 22 in each September, and they are finding it a little tight in the school to accommodate all of these young people and give them the best education possible.

“So what they want to do is to build a new science block, so that the science area that they have got currently, can be expanded into the school and used for other things.

“It’s laid out quite well in the papers I think how it’s going to be funded, some from monies that we already have on their behalf from 106 which is actually named for Sponne School so can’t be used anywhere else at all.

“Some which will be due if not already paid, imminently. They do have a sort of rather elaborate plan for the future but that will not be coming under our remit at all. There is a limit to how much 106 contribution there is going towards this school and that will be the end of our contribution to their funding.

“So how they fund future developments will be for them to find out because we have firmly said that this will be the end of our contribution.”

Cllr Lizzy Bowen asked why a new staff faculty office space was being built in phase one of the building programme.

She said: “Why would you put that above all of the other requirements when they are desperate for space in the first place? It isn’t the staff that need the space, it’s children. So why’ve they prioritised that first?”

Cllr Baker replied: “They have prioritised that because they currently have staff space in the rest of the buildings that they have at the moment and they want to integrate that for young people’s space.

“So the staff are having to move out of there into a new accommodation. Not because they are getting priority but because it suits better for the space that the staff have currently within the school to be used by the pupils.”