Funding for new schools needed urgently, MPs say
The main entrance to the schools in the new plans
SOUTH Gloucestershire political leaders have met the government to try to secure a commitment to funding two new schools for Lyde Green.
MPs and councillors met Education Secretary Gavin Williamson as parents in the area continue to wait to see whether new primary and secondary schools will get the go-ahead in the next wave of the Free Schools programme.
The council has submitted plans for the schools to its own planning department to begin the process of approval for the school site in Honeysuckle Lane.
Comments from residents are being invited on the scheme, which would see the primary school and secondary school share the same site in two and three-storey buildings.
Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore and Luke Hall, whose Thornbury and Yate constituency also includes parts of Lyde Green, called for the meeting with the Education Secretary.
They were joined by South Gloucestershire Council leader Toby Savage and the council's cabinet member for schools, Erica Williams, to press their case that a suitable site was ready for the school and plans in place.
They say that, with more than half of the 2,500 homes planned for Lyde Green have now been built, there is a growing need for the schools to be completed, joining the existing Lyde Green Primary School in Willowherb Road.
Two providers, SGS Academy Trust and Castle School Educational Trust, made applications to the Department for Education almost a year ago, under the free school programme.
SGS Academy Trust had an application for funding turned down under the previous wave of applications last year.
Mr Skidmore said: “Lyde Green is a thriving new community, with many families choosing to move to the area recently to make it their home. Having the appropriate education provision in place is therefore crucial to ensure that the growing number of children can be educated locally.
Thornbury and Yate MP Luke Hall said: “With more houses being built in South Gloucestershire, I am pushing to secure this new school for the many young families living in Lyde Green and across South Gloucestershire."
Emersons Green ward councillors Rachael Hunt, Colin Hunt and Judy Adams said: “We are delighted that our local MPs are continuing to push Government to back plans for a new secondary school for the flourishing community of Lyde Green.
"We are keen to see our area get the best possible facility it can and with it being taken directly to the Secretary of State, it has an even stronger chance of becoming a reality."
Earlier this year the DfE said a decision on the applications for funding would be announced in the autumn.
When asked to clarify this by the Voice in September, a spokesperson said there was no firm date set for the announcement, although it was still due to be made in the autumn term.
The council has submitted 58 documents in support of the scheme, including site pans, images of how the buildings would look, design statements, surveys and several documents on access and travel to and around the site.
There have already been a series of comments from public bodies and individuals, including Emersons Green Town Council, which has raised no objections to the plans.
Three residents had made comments on the plans as the Voice went to print, all raising concerns about plans for access to the site by vehicles.
One neighbour said he supported the new school but said the transport plan needed to be revisited due to the "massive volume of traffic" that would be using Honeysuckle Road to get to a single site entrance, a point echoed by two fellow residents.
One of them also questioned why the plans appeared to show a coach and visitors' car park for the school on an area of land which had previously been earmarked for a local retail centre.
The plans can be viewed and commented on by visiting the planning section of South Gloucestershire Council's website and searching for application P20/14136/RM.