Stowmarket: Suffolk County Council accuses Mid Suffolk of preventing more than £1.8m from going to over-subscribed school on Cedars Park estate
15:00 31 July 2014
Education chiefs have claimed that more than £1.8million should have been invested in a school on an expanding town estate.
In Stowmarket parents are frustrated because their children cannot use the over-subscribed Cedars Park Community Primary School which, in some cases, is just a short walk from their front doors.
Questions are being asked about why the school on Cedars Park, which now has some 1,900 homes on it and is expected to increase by another 600 properties, was built to cater for only 150 pupils.
Since then Suffolk County Council has extended the school three times, with a third enlargement seeing the capacity rise to 420.
The county council argues Mid Suffolk District Council should have contributed £1.24million through Section 106 developers’ fees in 2011 which could have been used to extend the site even further. In 2010, the county council said it requested almost £610,000, which was also refused.
A county council spokesman said it had only received £120,000 for education throughout the estate’s development.
Mid Suffolk bosses strongly contest this, claiming the county council had previously asked for the fees to be used for transport, such as the multi-million pound relief road, which links the estate to the town.
A review into schooling provision was launched after a public meeting was held over the issue in May. A follow-up county council letter by Gavin Bultitude, assistant director of resources and support, was sent to parents.
It said: “In the case of the Cedars Park development, Mid Suffolk District Council did not support the council’s demand for contributions toward the provision of education facilities from Crest, which was developing the site.
“This meant that we were left with a site which is too small to sustain the numbers of children coming from extra housing and insufficient funds to provide another school close by.”
Philip Isbell, Mid Suffolk’s corporate manager for development management, said there had been “significant” community pressure to use Section 106 fees to fund a £1m community centre on the estate in 2011 instead of using the money to expand the school.
He added that certain areas had to be given priority.
“There was not a consistent position adopted by the county council to the district council at the time,” he said.
“With viability you inevitably have to compromise what you can achieve. It’s not a happy outcome, it’s a pragmatic outcome.”
A primary school will fully open in 2015 on the existing Combs Middle School site around two miles from the estate.