24 August 2012

Proposals to convert a commercial property in Northampton into a new primary school will be discussed by Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet next month.

A report due to be discussed on Tuesday 4th September asks for cabinet approval to buy a former office block on Cliftonville Road, which could be run as an annexe of Abington Vale Primary School from September 2013.

Councillor Andrew Grant, cabinet member for children, learning and skills, said: “The circumstances around the pressure for primary school places in the town centre have led us to explore all options.

“While we have surplus land and buildings elsewhere in the town, they aren’t in the areas where we have the population pressure and we really don’t want to be transporting small children by bus away from their local communities.

“Although office accommodation is not a conventional classroom environment, our highly-acclaimed education research project, Learnspace in Corby, will help us to apply the best of design innovation for education settings and translate the latest thinking and research about learning environments into reality.”

The proposed purchase of the building is among a series of measures to address unprecedented demand for primary school places in Northamptonshire.

The cabinet meeting will also receive an update on the statutory consultation on plans to enlarge the capacity of seven primary schools:

  • Earl Spencer primary school, Northampton
  • Exeter primary school, Corby
  • Greenfields primary school, Kettering
  • St Mary’s CE primary school, Burton Latimer
  • Loatlands primary school, Desborough
  • Weedon Bec primary school, Weedon
  • Ruskin infant school, Wellingborough

Meanwhile, a cabinet member decision will be taken on the same day to approve the start of the statutory consultation process to enlarge the capacity of:

  • Abington Vale primary school, Northampton
  • Barton Seagrave primary school, Kettering
  • Boothville primary school, Northampton
  • Bridgewater primary school, Northampton
  • Castle primary school, Northampton
  • Delapre primary school, Northampton
  • St Andrew’s primary school, Kettering
  • St Andrew’s primary school, Northampton
  • Spring Lane primary school, Northampton
  • Victoria primary school, Wellingborough
  • Wollaston primary school, Wellingborough

While pressure on school places is being replicated across the country, Northamptonshire is one of the fastest growing counties resulting in more pressure in urban areas, especially Northampton town centre.

The recent publication of 2011 census data shows that Northamptonshire has a percentage rise in population above the national average, with a 19 per cent increase since 2001 in the number of children under the age of five.

The cost of purchasing and converting the office block, which is situated on the corner of Cliftonville Road and The Avenue, into a primary school is estimated at £2.9m. The council has received £1.9m from the government’s Basic Need fund in acknowledgement of the pressure on the county’s primary sector. The additional £1m would be met from the council’s capital funding. The average cost of building a traditional new primary school is approximately £6m.