Consultation set for country park school plan

Coun David Renard at the possible school site near Mouldon Hill

Coun David Renard at the possible school site near Mouldon Hill

First published in News by

THE public is to be consulted on controversial plans to build a new primary school within Mouldon Hill Country Park following an error in a council document.

The council needs to create 60 reception places a year in North Swindon from September 2014. Following a feasibility study of seven different sites in May, the council agreed in July to take two sites to public consultation.

The options were to expand Orchid Vale Primary School to provide one new form and build a new one-form school in a field at Taw Hill, or just to build a new two-form school in the field.

A cabinet report in July stated the land to the west of Thamesdown Drive was not within the boundary of Mouldon Hill Country Park, but after further investigation this was found to be incorrect, so the consultation was postponed.

A council spokesman said: “The only cost from the cancellation of the initial consultation was a small amount of time notifying parties planned events would not be going ahead.”

On Wednesday, cabinet agreed to hold a consultation on the permanent expansion of Orchid Vale and to seek public opinion on building a new school in the country park.

Swindon Council says the consultation is needed as there are no viable alternatives. The council says the land in the country park is poorly used and inaccessible for recreational purposes, potentially making it a viable school site, But there are a number of issues that could arise, including access off the dual carriageway and across a railway line, the need to bridge a floodplain and to re-route power lines.

Haydon Wick Parish Council chairman Richard Hailstone said: “We haven’t got all the information from the council, but we would hope wherever the school is, it’s near where the children using it live.”

Coun Emma Faramarzi (Con, Priory Vale) said: “I think it’s a good spot for a school. It’s within walking distance of Oakhurst and a lot of the areas that have problems with a lack of school spaces.”

But Labour group leader Coun Jim Grant, said: “I am opposed to building on this site.

“I do not believe in developing on country parks and designated green open spaces.

“Secondly, this site is a flood plain. Also there are other sites where this school could be built.”

Conservative group leader, Coun Dale Heenan said that if anyone had a viable alternative site in the area it could still be considered before any decision is made in 2013.

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