Shropshire Council preparing for 'major review' of school places

A 'major review' of school places in the county that could mean new schools being required is expected to take place next year.

Shropshire Council will carry out a 'major review' looking at the impact of plans for thousands of new homes on school places in the county
Shropshire Council will carry out a 'major review' looking at the impact of plans for thousands of new homes on school places in the county

Shropshire Council says that it will carry out the review after its local plan is 'formally adopted'.

The local plan sets out locations in every town and village in the Shropshire Council area where homes and commercial properties can be built up until 2038 – and ultimately where thousands of potential new school pupils could be living.

In theory it could lead to new schools, or school expansions being required in particular areas – particularly Shrewsbury, Tern Hill, Bridgnorth, and Ironbridge.

Although Ironbridge itself falls under neighbouring Telford & Wrekin Council, plans for hundreds of new homes on the former Ironbridge Power Station are inside Shropshire Council's boundaries.

Some councillors in Shrewsbury are already calling for the creation of a new secondary school, outlining their concerns over the availability of school places.

The local plan has to be approved by a Government inspector before it can be signed off – that process is currently taking place.

The council wants to review the "potential impact of the plan on the provision of school places across the county", with the review slated to begin in Autumn next year.

The issue will be discussed at a meeting of the council's people overview committee next Thursday, September 29.

A report on the subject says council officers are already in discussions over the areas where new schools could be needed.

It states: "The draft local plan for the plan period 2016-2038 proposes to deliver 30,800 dwellings across the county, with proposals for the majority of development planned for the larger strategic and principal centres, significant growth in Shrewsbury, a new garden village in Bridgnorth (Tasley), and new strategic sites at Clive Barracks (Tern Hill) and the former Ironbridge Power Station.

"School place planning officers are already engaged in early discussions on the potential areas in which significant pupil growth may be expected, ahead of the formal adoption of the plan in July 2022."

The report adds: "Following the formal adoption of the local plan 2016-2038, Learning & Skills officers will lead on a major review on the potential impact of the plan on the provision of school places across the county.

"This review will be shared with and consulted upon with all the key stakeholders, including members, with a view to developing a new programme of works and securing funding, strongly based on the premise of the right provision in the right location at the right time.

"The review will be initiated in autumn 2022 and it is proposed that it be included in the programme for the People Overview Committee in the first half of 2023."

Two schools in the county are currently the focus of Government funding for the 'national school rebuilding programme'.

Belvidere School in Shrewsbury, which is an academy, has been included in phase one of the programme and is being completely rebuilt.

St Andrew’s CE Primary in Shifnal, a maintained school, has been included in phase two of the programme and will be either significantly refurbished or rebuilt.

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