Justine Greening MP - help to secure Council land for a much-needed school in North Leeds
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Please support our petition to Justine Greening MP Education Secretary for help to secure the release of the Golf Course Practice Ground from Leeds City Council to enable a much-needed school to be built in North Leeds.
In the Roundhay and Shadwell areas of Leeds we are short around 60 primary school places every year. That means 60 children are unable to access places at their local schools. This has been the situation since 2015 when 86 families failed to secure any local primary schools.
Click here to see the affected area, sometimes referred to as the ‘black hole’
What happens to these families/children?
They are instead offered whatever is left over in the city. This has meant some being allocated their 28th nearest primary school, facing a 50 minute round trip for the school run. A community of young families fragmented, with children living next to each other being offered schools five miles apart. Data projections for 2018, 2019 and 2020 show that the problem is set to continue and indeed worsen. Click here to see the past and projected numbers of primary children starting school each year in the area.
In 2015 parents successfully campaigned for 90 additional places to be found a short notice at three local primary schools. Since then local schools have been asked to take it in turns to take extra classes each year (known as bulge classes) but there is not the capacity to do this any more and options have run out.
In order to address the problem, local parents and other community members were encouraged by Leeds City Council to submit an application for a new free-school to address the ongoing shortfall. The bid was successful and funding for a new primary school in North Leeds was secured by the Department of Education.
The school should have opened this September (2017). However the project has stalled due to difficulties in obtaining a site and the entire project is at risk of being cancelled if land is not secured by November 2017.
Leeds City Council has identified two potential sites for the new school based on numerous feasibility assessments and a public consultation. These sites are Roundhay Park Golf Course Practice Ground and Roundhay Park Lane East, both of which are in the Council’s ownership. It has taken far longer than expected to get to this point, much to the frustration and disappointment of local parents.
It is extremely important that the most suitable site is now selected so that no more time is wasted and a school site is secured that is right for the children of this area.
Roundhay Park Lane East
The parents of North Leeds believe that this is not the right site to pursue for the following reasons:
- To build on the site will require a covenant to be lifted and doing so may open adjacent farmland to house building. It is known the landowner would like to build affordable housing and if this were allowed then places at the school would be taken by these new homes and the problem would remain;
- It is adjacent to a busy junction on the Leeds Ring Road; significant alterations will be required to the road layout and a pedestrian footbridge built. Extensive roadworks will be required and would result in significant traffic delays;
- The volume of traffic using an already busy junction would increase as parents cross the ring road to take their children to school;
- The road which will be used to access the school is very narrow and will need to be widened along its entire length to accommodate a standard width carriageway and pavements; and
- It is a pure green field site and will be very expensive to deliver due to the extensive alterations to the surrounding infrastructure.
- Being separated from the Roundhay community by the busy ring-road and being more difficult to walk to, this site would not work easily as a community centre.
Golf Course Practice Ground
We believe that the Golf Course Practice Ground is the right site to pursue for the following reasons:
- No new road or paving infrastructure is required;
- It is within walking distance of the whole of the black hole area, therefore walking to school can be promoted;
- The site is a corner of Roundhay Park that is not freely accessible to the public, only fee paying users of a golf club and would not reduce the size of the park enjoyed by the public; and
- Outside of school hours the building can be used as a much-needed community centre for this part of Roundhay; and could in fact become a resource to be used by all sorts of community groups.
This site has been discussed with the Friends of Roundhay Park and they are not in opposition to it, and can see the benefits of having engaged children playing an active part in support of the park.
Click here to see the history to date of the school bid
Click here to see an image of the two sites in relation to the “black hole” area of North Leeds.
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