Stowupland High School secures £2.4m for expansion - here’s when it should be open
A Suffolk school set to expand its intake by more than 150 pupils has secured £2.4million in cash for work to begin.
Stowupland High School's bid for Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money - cash paid by developers for infrastructure improvements - was approved on Monday by Mid Suffolk District Council's cabinet, paving the way for work to begin.
The expansion is for a brand new standalone sixth form block, which will increase sixth form places by 15 and free up other classrooms in the main school to accommodate up to a further 150 pupils.
The new facility is due to open by September, as swathes of housebuilding have made the need for new places urgent.
Karen Grimes, chief executive of the John Milton Academy Trust which runs the school, said: "After much hard work, and extensive consultation, I'm absolutely delighted that this amazing project is now set to come to fruition.
"Not only will it allow us to expand the school to meet the demand for places, but it will also become a key community space beyond the school day."
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The school must now carry out a community user agreement which will set out how the school is used after teaching hours.
A partnership with the University of Suffolk is also being established which could see evening and holiday courses held there.
While the school is run by an academy trust and not the local authority, it is the county council's responsibility to provide school places, meaning CIL money can be used to fund them.
Planning permission has already been secured for the development, which includes a new coach parking area, cycle and footpath link and 57-space car park.
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David Burn, Mid Suffolk's Conservative cabinet member for planning, said: "The housing growth that has caused the need for school expansion has already taken place in a number of places in the catchment area."
He added: "It's great news Mid Suffolk has been able to approve such a significant amount of CIL funding for the new sixth form centre - the first of its kind since the levy was introduced."
During the discussions over whether to grant planning permission, some concerns had been raised over parking provision for sixth formers and traffic fears in the area.
Keith Welham from the opposition Green group said: "I support the principle of developing a high standard and sustainable sixth form at Stowupland High School but there are a number of concerns that should have been addressed as part of the planning and CIL bidding process.
"Consideration should have been given to measures to reduce traffic congestion caused by parents dropping off and picking up pupils and to improve road safety.
"There is no provision for sixth form students to park on site, and no improvement to the school access on to A1120.
"We need to have further discussions and I look forward to working with partners to address these outstanding issues."