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Black mark for new school site - calls for rethink on planned new secondary school for Wisbech

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Plans for a new secondary school in Wisbech have sparked calls for a rethink by opponents concerned about the proposed location.

New school site off Gadds Lane/Barton Road in Wisbech -. (5877541)
New school site off Gadds Lane/Barton Road in Wisbech -. (5877541)

The public are set to have their say on Cambridgeshire County Council’s plans for the school, which is set to be built on land it owns off Barton Road, next month.

But local councillors are urging people to speak up amid concerns the development will add to congestion in west Wisbech, mainly along North Brink.

Plans are being drawn up for a new secondary school in Wisbech. (5899112)
Plans are being drawn up for a new secondary school in Wisbech. (5899112)

Coun Gavin Booth, who represents Parson Drove and Wisbech St Mary and his fellow councillor Sarah Bligh, both agree there is a need for a new secondary school but fear the chosen site is the wrong place to build it.

Coun Booth said: “The concern we have is that this is basically an open field in the middle of nowhere between Wisbech and Wisbech St Mary. Getting children there is not going to be easy and will require transport and parents driving them to school.

“That will mean extra traffic along North Brink which is already a nightmare and a bottleneck. The infrastructure in that area is already struggling and this will just make things worse. They are holding a public consultation on the proposals but they are not offering an alternative site.

“We have not been told what other options were considered. The school is expected to cater for children from the villages on that side of Wisbech, but parental choice means they may not choose to go to the new school.

“We want to make it clear we are not opposed to the new school, we know one is needed to cater for the planned growth of the town, especially with the Garden Town proposals, but this is not the right location. We want people to have their say at the public consultation on January 9.”

The school will have 600 places and the county council expects it to cater for the current population and outlying villages, as well as being ideally placed when development of West Wisbech occurs.

The proposals also include the relocation of the social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) school run by TBAP Unity Academy, which is currently located in Algores Way, Wisbech, to a purpose-built, state of the art building, which can accommodate up to 60 pupils.

The overall site masterplan will retain further land for possible future expansion of the secondary school and a potential primary school. These developments do not form part of the initial phase and will be driven by future demographic data as West Wisbech expands.

Kier and their design team, led by architects, Frank Shaw Associates, have been appointed to develop design proposals. Currently the team are working closely with both TBAP and education representatives to refine the brief and ensure education requirements are met.

The public consultation will allow comment on the emerging design proposals prior to a formal planning submission. It is currently anticipated the planning application for the scheme will be submitted in early spring 2019 to enable works to start in the year.

The intention is for the SEMH school to be operational from January 2020, with the secondary school opening in September 2020.

The public consultation event will be held at the Wisbech St Mary Community Centre on January 9 between 3.30pm and 7pm. The project team will be present to talk through the plans.

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