Update on new Yeovil schools

Somerset County Council is discussing temporary arrangements to bridge the gap while two new primary schools are built in Yeovil.

Initially, the intention was to have the Lufton and Wyndham Park school buildings open by September 2016. However developer, planning and access issues are still being resolved and completion of the new buildings will be delayed.

The Council and the new school sponsors are working on alternative arrangements to cover the period until the buildings are ready, aiming for a local solution that keeps the children together.

Officers will attend a meeting of Brympton Parish Council next week to discuss potential alternatives for the Lufton school. Options currently being considered are temporarily hosting the children at Stanchester Academy or permanently expanding Preston Primary.

For Wyndham Park, the plan is to launch the school in September 2016, hosted at Huish Primary School until the new school building is available.

Sponsors for the new schools were recently confirmed by the Department for Education. Preston Primary School will be the sponsor for the school in Lufton, and Huish Primary School for the school to be built at Wyndham Park.

“We can reassure parents that places will be available for all Yeovil children starting primary school next September,” said Cllr Frances Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services.

“Of course, we wanted the new school buildings to be ready by then and this situation demonstrates the complexity and difficulties of school planning. But I am delighted that we have two such outstanding sponsors in place the Council is excited to be working with them.”

Completion dates for the school buildings will depend on the progress of planning applications but the council is working with the developers and district council colleagues to move them forward as quickly as it can.

“The difficulty is getting access to sites in the right places at the right time,” said Cllr Nicholson. “Like all local authorities, we look to developers to make land available and contribute to the cost of new school builds. That means construction timescales can be affected and complicated by the progress of developments.

“There is a lot of pressure for primary school places in the area, but the funding is in place, everyone is pulling in the same direction and the schools will be built as soon as possible.”

Ric Pallister, Leader of South Somerset District Council added: “Despite officers from both councils working intensively together with commercial partners for the past 15 months, the delays have been unavoidable. It is deeply frustrating for us all and our residents, that the schools cannot be completed by 2016.

“This remains one of our, and my, highest priorities in the District to work alongside County colleagues to deliver the new schools as swiftly as we can”

The Brympton Parish Council meeting will take place on 21 October at the Innovation Centre, Barracks Close, Copse Road, Yeovil, starting at 7.30pm.