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:.
“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
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.