It has been a little while since I wrote to you about the progress towards our new building and a lot has been happening in recent weeks and months and it’s probably a good time for an update.
First of all, some important decisions have been made that pave the way for the building to happen. Following hearings in December, it has been recommended by the Local Plan Inspector that the area covered by Bramcote College is removed from the Green Belt. This paves the way for the County Council to develop our former playing fields, in return for funding our new school. The significance of this is that funding is now in place. Furthermore, the Inspector made it clear that investment in new school buildings should not be delayed waiting for receipts from property sales. Nottinghamshire County Council will fund and cash flow the development of the school and will be reimbursed from receipts from the future development of the residential allocation.
Another important step is what is known as the Section 77 approval. This is the approval that must be given by the government for the sale of school playing fields. Although it will be Nottinghamshire, not White Hills Park, who sell the playing fields, this approval is an important part of the process. Our application was submitted late last year and although we have not yet had official confirmation, we are confident that it will be approved, on the basis that the land in question has not been used for school playing fields for many years. An additional factor is that we are in the process of taking over two new pitches constructed on the old Biffa site to the north west of our current building – this means that we will have more pitches and games facilities in the new school than before, and they will be safer and much more accessible for students.
Most exciting of all, the detailed design work is now under way. ARC Partnership have been appointed as architects and we have had our first meetings with the Project Manager and the principal architect to establish the programme. Over the next few months, we will develop the design through a series of client engagement meetings, ensuring that it meets our needs and aspirations. A key part of this will be engaging with parents and the wider community and so there will be a special event on Tuesday, June 25th at Bramcote College to describe initial outline designs and get feedback that can feed into the next stage of design. I will give more details nearer the time, but it would be great to see you there and hear your views. We will also make sure that the views of staff and children are considered throughout the whole process.
We have recently had the opportunity to visit some newly-built schools, including Wilsthorpe School in Long Eaton, and Newark Academy – schools that are of similar size to ours, and where the project has been set up in a similar way. Both schools are very impressive and have been constructed to a standard that we would be very happy with here. It is exciting that our new school is coming ever-closer, one which will be a lasting asset to our community and a high-quality, fit-for-purpose building of which we can all be proud.