New schools needed around Chichester as homes multiply

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New schools will be needed as thousands of new homes proposed around Chichester stretch the education system to breaking point, it has been warned.

That is the view of the local education authority, West Sussex County Council, in response to plans to build thousands of homes in the district.

WSCC feels a number of primary schools, and even a new secondary school, are needed to keep up with demand as large housing developments are planned all over the area.

A WSCC spokesman said it aimed to have a five per cent surplus capacity for school places across the area.

The spokesman added: “We plan on a locality basis on at least a four-year basis so we can meet each community’s needs.

“Working with borough and district councils, we aim to respond to demand arising from pupils moving into the area and parental preference as well as new housing developments.

“We continually monitor demand and will look to extend provision when and where required.”

The schools could be paid for by housing developers which would need to make financial contributions to the cost of extra services, as part of the legal agreement for their planning permission.

The report said the situation in Chichester was now one of rising primary-age pupils, with the number of children entering reception next year expected to exceed the capacity available.

Options might include a new primary school on the site secured at Graylingwell.

“We have an uncertain position in Chichester at present, but are certainly in a position where any further housing would necessitate the need for financial contributions as a minimum, and perhaps a new primary school site depending on the eventual location and numbers,” the report added.

For example, the Portfield/Shopwyke location was in a poor position for existing schools.

It was therefore probable they would wish to secure a new site for a 210-place primary school if this development were to proceed.

Assuming the possible location north-east of Chichester excluded the currently-permitted developments at Graylingwell and the barracks, it was likely a site for a new primary school would be required.

Manhood schools would accommodate children arising from development at either Selsey and/or East Wittering. But provision of up to 950 homes might again necessitate a new primary school.

Significant development at Tangmere of up to 1,500 homes would also require one.

The cumulative effect of the developments could generate around 800 additional secondary-aged pupils, and a new secondary school might be needed.

There is a fear in Oving that unless a new school is built then pupils in the village could be left in no-man’s land.

When the Westhampnett and Oving schools were closed in the 1960s, the new March school was built in their place, with the caveat that Oving pupils would have bus transport provided to the new school.

But it is feared if hundreds of new children move into new homes potentially to be built at Shopwhyke Lakes, then it could leave Oving children struggling to get school places.

Chairman of Oving Parish Council Susan Bradstock-Smith said: “If we put another 1,500 homes in this district without building new schools, I cannot see how that would work.”

She also warned the area would be left without proper facilities if the infrastructure was not put in place ahead of the developments being built.

“We are worried about it being approached in a piecemeal way,” she said. “We have a problem with roads, and there is a considerable problem with sewage.”