DISGRUNTLED parents are calling for local authorities to ‘put children before profits’ and build a Leamington school on the site of ‘needless’ homes.
Around 160 campaigning parents have called on Warwickshire County Council (WCC) and Warwick District Council (WDC) to start building a new school – whose plans have been delayed by a year – on a site which has been set aside for 150 homes.
Residents of the new Oakley Grove estate were promised a nearby school they could send their children to as a condition for the homes receiving planning permission from WDC.
But WCC recently announced the school would not be ready for pupils until 2024 – a year later than initially planned.
This is in part due to a disagreement with the landowner over the transfer of the more distant, sloping site developer AC Lloyd had secured for the school.
And the parents’ campaign to use the alternate site – next to Harbury Lane and the junction of Oakley Wood Road – has received the backing of an ex-council planner and architect Ray Bullen.
An analysis by Mr Bulllen found, at the current trajectory of applications granted and sites earmarked for development, almost 4,000 more homes than needed could be built in Warwick district by 2029.
And now campaigners want to block AC Lloyd’s development of 150 extra homes and used the site for the school instead.
WDC’s Local Plan for housing includes a need for 16,776 homes by 2029 but Mr Bullen’s shows it is more likely to be more than 20,000.
Mr Bullen said: “I’ve been campaigning for the school to be built on an appropriate site while opposing the extra homes since 2017.
“If the school was designed now on the flat site, it could be ready to take reception and Year 7 students by 2023, as promised to families on the estate.”
Campaigner and mum-of-two Jenny Bevan referred to WCC’s’ ‘Child Friendly Warwickshire’ scheme to enhance the experience of children and young people growing up in the county.
She said: “It’s time the county council showed what ‘Child Friendly Warwickshire’ really means to children and families, by putting their needs above the profits of a developer.
“Through no fault of their own, families have been put in an impossible situation regarding their children’s education and it’s so important the councils make the right decision to build the school on the closer, flat land and finally put children first.”
Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western, who has also been supporting the campaign.
He said: “Once again, these are the wrong homes in the wrong places and, as Ray’s research shows, they just aren’t needed.
“We absolutely must have a temporary school, but a much-needed permanent school could be open in time if the council built it on the site earmarked for the homes.”
WCC had not responded to our request for a comment at the time of going to press.