'We desperately need a new school'

PUBLISHED: 14:00 22 September 2011

New homes

New homes

Archant

PROPOSALS for a new 550-home community have provoked large concerns from residents, who question whether a school and services will be provided to accommodate the thousands of people which will move into the area.

Hallam Land Management has acquired outline planning permission for land at Brue Farm, in Huntspill Road, Highbridge. The development includes 550 new homes, a primary school and an associated highway, but no confirmation has been offered over who will build the school.

Tina Gray, aged 46, of Popular Estate, in Highbridge is a member of the Highbridge Residents’ Association and says the plans have changed within the past year, from 420 homes to 550.

She said: “There could potentially be 1,000 children who will need schooling. People are desperate for a new school, and some are choosing to send their children to Burnham. We want to see one will definitely be built.”

At the moment Churchfield School, which is the school for the Highbridge area, has two spaces left, while all other schools have reached their full capacity.

Planning and policy planner for Sedgemoor, Stuart Howlett said this development is part of Sedgemoor’s core strategy for housing requirement, and a school is in the plans.

Councillor Helen Groves said: “People are concerned that with the amount of homes which will be built and the amount of people moving into the area, without adequate drainage, doctor’s surgeries, and schools it could put a special impact on the residents.”

A Somerset County Council spokesman said: “Reference is made in the planning application to school provision. Discussions between officers and the developers are at a very early stage and no decisions have been made.

“It will depend on how much money the developer and the county will put in.”

Ms Gray said: “If Somerset County Council is going to build the school, will it be able to pay for the staff costs? You can build as much as you like but if the money is not there, will we get what we need?”

The council spokesman said: “There are no cuts to education funding and as far as teaching staff is concerned, the decision rests with the governing bodies.”

Ms Gray also said a new doctors’ surgery has not been included in the plans and the one on Pepperall Road is now being extended.

She said: “It’s ridiculous, there’s nothing here at all and I don’t think we have enough, there will be thousands of new residents in Highbridge.”

Cllr Groves said the council hopes to have a decision made on the application within the next two weeks.

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