Residents overwhelmingly oppose proposed site of new Northampton secondary school - but scheme set to go step closer
Council recommended to grant 125-year lease to academy trust tonight
A new secondary school on the outskirts of Northampton is set to go a step closer to being built despite residents' overwhelming opposition to the chosen site.
West Northamptonshire Council' s cabinet is recommended to grant a 125-year lease for the land near Moulton to the trust behind Northampton School for Boys at a meeting tonight (Tuesday, September 14).
The old Northamptonshire County Council had already agreed the deal for Wantage Farm, funded by the government and subject to planning approval, but the new local authority has had to give it fresh consideration.
The results of a fresh 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.
The report ahead of the meeting says: "The consultation has identified recognition of the need for a new school, alongside majority opposition to this site.
"The reasons given by respondents have been carefully considered and none were found that would justify not proceeding. In particular, many objections relate to matters more appropriately tested by the planning system."
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 the report.
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.
Of the 688 responses to the consultation, 74 per cent agreed an increased number of school places are required to serve Northampton and 71 per cent agreed there is a need for a new secondary school in the town.
However, 41 per cent ‘strongly’ disagreed that Wantage Farm was a suitable site for a new secondary school compared to 29 per cent who ‘strongly’ agreed.
Reasons for opposition included the expected increase in traffic in the area, the loss of green space, the impact on the environment, the overdevelopment of Moulton and preference for development on brownfield sites.
The report says: "Each of these themes of objection would be considered as part of the planning application process to which all interested stakeholders would be able to respond and make their views known.
"The planning application process would consider objections and may result, as it judged to reflect the planning balance, a decision to approve or reject, and if approval is given conditions may be imposed to manage any adverse impacts."
DPP Planning unveiled its plans for 'Northampton School', which would have new sports facilities, access, parking and landscaping, during a public consultation in July ahead of an official application to the council.