Village Green Application: School Size Planning Guidance

An application has been made to register the playing field as a Village Green, with the aim of not permitting any enclosure or development on it.

The village school sits in the corner of the field on a site of about 60meters square, which I calculate to be rather less than half a hectare. I have asked Martin Trewella, development planner at Swindon, to enquire of the likely requirements for the school if and when the proposed expansion of the village goes ahead. He replied as follows:.

Colin.

“Education” has confirmed that a larger school site would be needed in order to accommodate potential pupils from additional housing in South Marston and the existing school population.

A primary yield of 0.231 pupils per dwelling from new housing developments is used to assess requirements. Therefore if 650 new homes were to be built (this figure has been used for the example below but it is right at the top end of the scale of development that is likely to be considered for the village) this quantum is expected to generate approximately 150 additional pupils and, including up to a further 150 possible “brownfield” homes (again a high figure), an approximate total of 185 additional pupils would “be generated”.

In addition it is common for new housing developments to be attractive to younger families in the initial stages and a ‘peak’ in demand of an extra 50% of the estimate in the short term is assumed before the area settles to the long term estimates above. The peak is expected to require an extra 75 to 93 places.

South Marston CE Primary School currently has capacity for 105 pupils across all age groups. Therefore, the requirement for school places, in this “high end” example, would be approximately 255 to 290. The admission number required for each of the seven year groups is 36 to 41. However, legislation determines that the three initial year groups are taught in classes of a maximum of 30 and, therefore, for optimum school organisation an admission number of 45 would be appropriate. This will require capacity for 315 pupils (1.5FE) and will help to meet some of the expected peak in demand.

The Department for Education set out the requirements for school buildings and the land required for curriculum, social and games use in the Building Bulletins. The DofE Bulletin 99 sets out the space requirements for primary schools and a school with 315 pupils requires land of 1.3 to 1.5 hectares. The Education Department would require the land allocation to be flexible to allow it to meet a peak in demand in the early years before the development settles down.

I trust this information is helpful.

Martin Trewhella MRTPI

Development Planner

As I see it, there are 3 options for the village to consider in relation to the school:

1) Expand the existing site and erect new buildings as required.

This is an option that the Village Green application seeks to block off.

2) Build a new school, close the old and use the site for something else.

This is likely to arouse strong views both ways. I don’t know where it would go or if it can be afforded.

3)  See a minority of village children attending the existing school, or see it closed as inappropriate with our children attending a bigger school at the new settlement at Rowborough.

My inclination remains that registration would not be helpful as we seek to plan the shape of the expanded village. I would urge all those concerned about these issues to get involved in the wider debate about the how we shape the expanded village details of which are published on this website and in Tower and Tap.

Colin McEwen

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9 thoughts on “Village Green Application: School Size Planning Guidance”

  1. Mr Trewhella says: “South Marston CE Primary School currently has capacity for 105 pupils across all age groups. Therefore, the requirement for school places, in this “high end” example [800], would be approximately 255 to 290.”

    However, aren’t 50% of current pupils from outside South Marston? If so, our current 300 houses produce 50 pupils & 800 similar new houses would produce an extra 133 pupils, total 183.

    I say “similar” new houses because we have mainly more expensive detached ones while the Council’s preference is for 50% starter homes to accommodate young families & single people. This would alter the current balance of the village & needs careful consideration by the villagers.

    1. I agree with Bob’s observation.This is why I believe that the village should keep its options open.
      I am not able to comment on Darren’s point as it is some years since my children were at the school! However, I have heard the view that outsiders are a good thing for for the school, in that they stop it from becoming too insular and it is less of a shock for the village children when they go up to secondary school.
      Colin McEwen

  2. “1) Expand the existing site and erect new buildings as required. This is an option that the Village Green application seeks to block off.”

    The Village Green application does not “seek” to do this; restricting the school site to its present size would be a consequence but it is certainly not the aim of the application. The aim of the application is to protect the recreation ground from development whether that be an expanded school, new houses or new roads.

    “2) Build a new school, close the old and use the site for something else. This is likely to arouse strong views both ways. I don’t know where it would go or if it can be afforded.”

    It can be afforded & the developers would pay for it, just like the other schools that are required in the Eastern Villages (EDA). It would be no more expensive than expanding the current school & replacing the pre-fabs. Indeed, the current school is 80% pre-fab & extension & only the original Victorian building & possibly the newest extension are worth retaining.

    The school has been on this site since it was built c.1870 (schooling previously held at the Red House, on the track to Manor Farm) & the VIctorian building & gardens would be better suited to an alternative, smaller use (such as a day centre for older people).

    Once we decide where the new houses will be, it would make sense to consider a new, central location for a new, purpose-built school.

    “3) See a minority of village children attending the existing school, or see it closed as inappropriate with our children attending a bigger school at the new settlement at Rowborough.”

    This is disingenuous scare-mongering. There is no doubt that South Marston will have its own, bigger primary school.

  3. Some will view this a victory for the village and some will see it as nimbyism, either way the status has not yet been granted, so we still don’t really know. Talking to a local person that would be affected, he said they are more concerned about house expansion than school expansion.

    1. It seems that the link is not visible. However the results from the survey are:
      1. Do you believe that the recreation field should be protected from future development by giving it village green status.
      answered question 12
      skipped question 0

      58.3%

      8.3%

      1

      Response Percent Response Count
      Yes 7
      No
      We should wait to see the out come of the Village Strategy before making a final decision. 33.3% 4
      Other (please specify)

      2. Who should decide the future of the recreation field?
      answered question 10
      skipped question 2

      Response Percent Response Count
      The Parish Council 20.0% 2
      South Marston Recreation Committee 0.0% 0
      Villagers by way of a referendum 80.0% 8
      Other (please specify)

      Note: that the results from this survey only came from 12 people. I understand that a larger number of people were present at the Parish Council meeting, when this issue was discussed.

      I would suggest that if we are to use online surveys in the future we need to make sure that they are genuinely part of the decision making process, and promoted far and wide. I know from the low take up of people subscribing for the website email updates, that the actual level of online participation is far from touching all the households in the village, and thus not currently that effective as a communications medium.

  4. Donald, I agree about the numbers using the site. Perhaps the PC should encourage people to provide email conacts as I am sure most do have it. In this modern day and age it is the most used method and the cheapest.

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