Planning Proposals for Burton College - Rolleston Campus
OU/02863/014 – Outline application for residential development including details of the means of access, at former Rolleston Campus of Burton College, Station Road, Rolleston on Dove (Ward: Rolleston).
Applicant: Burton College
The former Rolleston Campus site of Burton College is situated on the eastern side of Rolleston on Dove, accessed from Station Road. The site of the application covers an area of approximately 2.84 hectares, and is occupied by college buildings, caretaker's bungalow, roads and some associated sports facilities, such as swimming pool and tennis courts. The playing fields to the south of the site are not included within this application. The application site which is bordered on the west and east by residential properties built in the 1970's rises gently away from Station Road. Meadow View to the west is generally lower than the site, whereas Twenty Lands to the east is higher.
The application for residential development is in outline only, apart from the means of access, details of which have been submitted consisting of a 6.5m wide collector road with 2 no. 2m footpaths close to the present caretaker's bungalow.
The applicant in a supporting statement indicates that this application forms part of an overall package designed to relocate the College campus to the centre of Burton upon Trent. An application incorporating the development proposals at the central campus is presently under consideration and will be reported to a later meeting. The College development strategy aims to centralise and provide full facilities for all students within Burton Town Centre. The Rolleston on Dove campus provides restricted facilities and many students have to commute between the 2 campuses. Redeveloping this site will assist in the financing of the College's investment proposals. The applicant also states that the Education Authority has identified it is not interested in purchasing the buildings, alternative uses for the buildings have been considered but no economically viable use has been identified, and the site will soon be vacated and is capable of redevelopment.
Other than various applications for such developments as mobile classrooms and extensions there is no relevant planning history.
The Head of Community Services' comments are contained later in this report. He has formally submitted a request to be consulted if detailed plans are submitted.
The Environment Agency has no objections but recommends certain finished floor levels, as the site is located close to the edge of River Dove floodplain.
The Principal Planning Officer (Policy and Corporate Affairs) comments that the proposal is broadly acceptable in terms of PPG3 being a brownfield site within the development boundary for Rolleston. He also comments on the future of the playing fields. Their potential for redevelopment will need to be considered as part of the Local Plan Review. This will need to address not only the merits of alternative use, but as part of this exercise, the overall provision of open public space within the village itself.
The Architectural Liaison Officer (Staffordshire Police) comments on various issues concerning location of open space and detailed design and requests he is consulted when details are submitted.
Severn Trent Water observes that the development is likely to generate a greater flow of foul sewage than the previous use. He points out that there are deficiencies within the foul drainage system which will need to be addressed. He also comments that the watercourse adjacent to the west side of the site crosses under Station Road and is believed to be close to capacity through the culvert. It is anticipated that any additional surface water run-off will have to be directed to the watercourse on the north side of Station Road.
Staffordshire County Council as highway authority originally commented that when the college is open, bus services use the car park to turn around, when the college is closed buses used Meadow View estate resulting in numerous complaints. It advises the bus operator is considering stopping the service 'should the annex be closed'. Some form of bus turning area should be incorporated in the design layout of the estate. It also considers it beneficial if the redevelopment were to contribute to bringing the various proposed cycle routes in close proximity to-fruition and/or providing links from the site into the network. There are modest proposals to amend and extend the traffic calming along Station Road and development of the site with increased vehicular movements should contribute. A Traffic Impact Assessment would also be required before permission is granted.
Following discussions with the applicant a revised response has been received, which is that the Highway Authority has no objections subject to conditions relating to reserved matters of layout, disposition of buildings, roads and footways, drainage of highway, provision of U-turn bus facility and stop, visibility splays provision and protection. This recommendation is based on the applicant entering into a Section 106 Agreement which shall include contribution towards associated traffic management works on Station Road and cycle link connections. In respect of the contribution to traffic management works whilst it is accepted that less traffic will be generated by the proposal, residential trips will generate 365 days a year, whereas the college is closed weekends and holidays, and residential trips will tend to reinforce the existing traffic patterns on Station Road, leaving in the morning and returning during the evening as opposed to the reverse when the college is open. A sum of £10,000 will ensure the works are completed.
Anslow Parish Council comment as follows:-
‘.... Concern was expressed that at a time when local children are being taken by bus to schools as far away as Barton under Needwood, a school, built as recently as 1963 with fine facilities, should be demolished.
The local secondary school (De Ferrers) is unable to provide pupils with storage for books, cycle helmets etc. because it is so short of accommodation. New housing schemes at Beamhill, Branston, Stretton and Rolleston on Dove are at present under construction thus placing yet more pressure on existing provision.
The School Organisation Plan Consultation Draft confirms (page 31) a rise in demand of 800 places over the next five years and the document goes on to say "the impact of new housing makes the planning of new places very difficult". Surely it is incredible that at such a time when already mobile classrooms are in use that the demolition of a' school is even contemplated. It is obvious that the College intend to seek residential consent for the school playing fields in the near future thus adding to local problems.
The environmental problems (particularly as far as traffic and parking are concerned) in the Town Centre of Burton will add yet more congestion once the proposed transfer is made.
It is hoped that the relevant authorities will consider properly the full implications of the College proposals before an irrevocable decision is made to permit the current planning application. Any decision prior to the proper consideration of the County Council Draft School Organisation Plan now out for comment would appear to be a betrayal of the democratic process.
It is to be hoped that appropriate Ministers would call in the Planning Application rather than let ill considered proposals proceed at this stage.
It would appear that stated Government Policies on Education, Transport and the Environment are brought into question if piecemeal planning is allowed to proceed.'
Rolleston on Dove Parish Council objects on the following grounds:-
The site is not specifically allocated for housing development in Table H2 of the Local Plan but is a "windfall" site. Sufficient land has already been allocated through the Local Plan process to cater for new housing in Rolleston up to 2001 and there is, therefore, no justification for the release of such windfall sites now, particularly of the scale envisaged by the application.
Rolleston is not a village that should be required to take any further large scale housing because of the lack of local employment opportunities and the inadequacies of the public transport system.
Housing allocations of this scale should be determined through a Review of the Local Plan using the sequential test outlined in Paragraphs 30 and 31 of PPG3. This application is premature pending that Review and in particular an urban capacity study of Burton and Uttoxeter where an independent Panel has recently stated most new housing in the Borough should be located after 2001.
The number of dwellings would exacerbate existing strains on the capacity of local schools, which are incapable of reasonably absorbing further pupils.
The application does not show how it complies with Policy IMRI, specifically in relation to employment opportunities and the balance and supply of housing provision in the Borough.
The application shows a pedestrian access from the site on to Parish Council land in Meadow View. There is no such access. In recent times the boundary hedge has been layed with the specific aim of stopping up an unofficial access to the Technical College grounds. No approach has been made to the Parish Council by the applicant.
In the O.S. extract, the area marked in red includes the grass verge on Station Road up to the junction with Meadow View. This verge is surely County Council highway verge.
My Council asks that this application is not considered by the Borough Council until further information is made available for public comment.
Information is required on the following:-
a) A condition and structural survey of all the buildings
b) Details of any attempts to market the site
i. within the existing D1 Use Class (non residential institutions)
ii. for employment purposes (Class B - Business use including offices, light industry and research and development)
iii. within Class D2 - (Assembly and Leisure)
c) A Traffic Impact Assessment
d) A report from the County Education Authority about the problems new houses will cause for existing schools and how they will be remedied. This report should not be the standard cash contribution from the County but an assessment of the effect of new housing in Rolleston and surrounding parishes. My Council has the support of Parish Councils from Tutbury, Outwoods, Stretton and Anslow that every effort should be made to prevent the buildings being demolished until this detailed assessment has been carried out.
As part of the Parish Council's submission to the Borough Council, I enclose a copy of an open letter written by Mr Ken Green to Janet Dean MP which enclosed an Historical Perspective of the Forest of Needwood, Wulfric and De Ferrers Schools from 1985 to 2000. (This is attached as an appendix to this report).'
In respect of housing on the site the Housing Services Development Officer comments that 'the Housing Needs Survey of 1998 shows Rolleston as a high demand area, mainly from existing rather than new households. Demand is mainly for owner occupation bungalows and houses (2+ bedrooms). Of existing households requiring housing in Rolleston, 35% have household incomes below £20,000; of new households, 69% have incomes below £15,000. This would suggest that low cost ownership may be a good option on this site. The Housing Needs Survey suggests a need for around 200 units required in Rolleston.'
I have received a further statement from Community Services commenting on the existing leisure facilities on the whole campus site, which offers at the brownfield site a swimming pool (16m x 8m), a small sports hall (20m x 12m), 4 surfaced tennis courts and to the rear of the application site outdoor pitches consisting of five sports pitches and a cricket wicket. Whilst these are used by the local community by arrangement they are effectively privately owned and controlled. The conclusion is that using recognised criteria Rolleston is adequately provided with- sports and open-space facilities without the College provision, although relocating uses will affect some groups unfairly, particularly those who do not have private,transport. and that it would be very difficult to justify retaining the swimming pool on -grounds of need or financial viability.
'This current application is only for the 'brownfield' site, which it is understood could accommodate 60 dwellings, and which is within the existing village envelope. For this site alone I would expect any new development to satisfy the Local plan requirement for the provision of open spaces in policies L2 -and L3. I consider that it is not possible to justify the retention of the swimming pool, gymnasium and tennis courts, on the strength of this application alone and the current, and enhanced population of Rolleston. Other facilities are already provided within reasonable travelling distance.
It is assumed that the remainder of the playing fields, albeit that they are private, remain available for use.'
taffordshire County Council's Director of Development Services seeks a contribution of £65,165 towards the provision of additional school places generated by this proposal which are calculated to be 9 no. 11-16 year old places, and 2 no Sixth Form places. He comments that the capacity of the primary school is sufficient to accommodate the extra pupils in that age group.
This was however based on an erroneous site area of 2.4 hectares and I have requested a recalculation from the County in light of the recalculated site area of 2.84 hectares.
Rolleston Civic Trust object for the following reasons:
1. Housing allocation for the local plan fulfilled with Home Farm;
2. Too large for a windfall site - up to 600 dwellings envisaged;
3. Insufficient places at local schools;
4. Infrastructure such as drains sewerage will be put under pressure;
5. Loss of swimming pool, sports hall and tennis courts, with playing fields under threat at a later date;
6. Loss of technical college and night school facilities;
7. Shortsightedness of demolishing a school;
8. Increase in traffic on already busy and dangerous road.
Rolleston on Dove Village Design Statement Group object as the site is described in the village design Statement as follows. -
Existing buildings on the site should not be demolished to -provide extra housing without giving consideration to new educational and recreational demands that this action would create.'
The plan appears inaccurate and submission is premature.
No consultation or negotiation attempted. Proper planning brief of the various needs of Rolleston and requirements of accommodating the College in Burton is the minimum to which residents and persons parking in Burton are entitled.'
I have received two letters from the Ward Councillor who in his first letter considers that in view of the pressure on De Ferrers High School it is his view that the campus should remain in educational use. However, if the County Council continue to claim there is no educational need for the site, the application should be considered further.
The greenfields and playing fields should remain, with obvious scope for tree planting to complement the nearby National Forest. Whilst the buildings at the front of the site are of importance to the village if they cannot be maintained redevelopment for housing is a reasonable alternative providing it is in accordance with the Village Design Statement. Care must be taken with existing traffic problems in Station Road and Dovecliffe Road. Overcrowding is a problem at local primary schools and De Ferrers. He questions the legality of an access from the back of the site to the Parish Council land.
His later letter further comments: -
1. Unallocated site, with sufficient land already allocated for Rolleston in the existing plan period. There is no justification for the release of a windfall site of this scale.
2. Lack of local infrastructure such as adequate public transport, local employment, and school places.
3. Developments of this scale should be determined through the Local Plan Review, and therefore the application is premature.
4. The additional number of dwellings would exacerbate strain on local schools, which are currently incapable of absorbing additional pupils.
In a letter referring to correspondence from Rolleston on Dove Parish Council and Mr Green's 'Historical Perspective' (see attached Appendix) Janet Dean MP states that she shares some of the concerns expressed by local people.
I have also received 8 letters of objection, based on the following issues.
Local schools are already approaching capacity and the additional houses would create an impossible situation for them, which would lead to a negation of the efforts put in by the schools to achieve a successful balance of education, despite over subscription of pupils and lack of funding.
The Infant School has 3 classrooms within the school building with a triple mobile unit. There is no green play area. Within the car park a further mobile is used by Rolleston Pre-School playgroup.
The Junior School fares a little better. However, given the 1985 decision by the County to remove all mobiles from school sites within East Staffordshire it will be a retrograde step to increase schools intake.
Any large increase in numbers would create an unacceptable level of class size, and cannot be considered in isolation, other local schools are similarly under pressure.
The college site is urgently required as an educational establishment.
Current usage of Rolleston Road has increased considerably over past few years and at peak times can be congested. Footpaths are narrow and a large influx of vehicles would add to congestion and danger for pedestrians along the route to the village.
3 Environmental Impact
Approval of this application would lead to pressure for release of playing fields, which would extend the village even closer to an amalgamation with Stretton and Burton.
4 Loss of facilities
This site has been a centre for the community, and the loss would destroy the culture of the village.
5 Contrary to local Plan Allocations
Rolleston has already developed by 10% over its allocation because of Home Farm. This would increase, to 154% if this application is permitted, making 'an absolute mockery of the already devalued Local Plan.’
It would set a precedent for development of playing fields, contrary to Government policy.'
Poor public transport and a 'huge increase in vehicle journeys that would be generated by new residents.'
Serious loss of amenities to adjacent property due to level differences, contrary to the Local Plan.
9 Increase in noise and pollution
Tranquil country atmosphere would be lost.
10 Loss of Mature Trees
Several mature trees on site would be threatened.
11 Loss of bus turning area
Loss of turning space within the site would result in buses using Meadow View which is potentially dangerous.
I have also received a petition with 190 signatories requesting that an in-depth assessment of secondary education in the Burton area is carried out before any decision is made to demolish the school buildings.
A set of the full text of comments which I have summarised in this section of the report are available for inspection in the Members' Room.
Relevant Planning Policies
Planning Policy Guidance Note 3: Housing sets out national guidance on a range of issues relating to the provision of housing.
Policy H3 of the Plan states that the local planning authority will permit small sites..... with a capacity of under ten dwellings, provided they accord with other development plan policies.
Policy H10 of the adopted Local Plan sets out the basis for negotiating for the inclusion of an appropriate element of affordable housing on sites in excess of 1 hectare.
Policy L1 of the Local Plan refers to the redevelopment of existing sports pitches and ancillary facilities.
Planning - Considerations
I consider the main issues for consideration are whether the proposal is in line with the Government guidance, whether it complies with the Local Plan. whether the proposal would place an undue strain on the infrastructure of the area, loss of facilities, highway issues and whether the proposal would adversely affect the reasonable amenities of the occupiers of adjacent dwellings.
In terms of Government guidance, Planning Policy Guidance Note 3 requires inter alia that local planning authorities plan to meet the housing requirements of the whole community, including those in need of affordable or special needs housing to provide sufficient housing land but give priority to re-using previously-developed land within urban areas.
PPG3 stresses at paragraph 22 its commitment to maximising the re-use of previously developed land in order to minimise the amount of greenfield land taken for development. Paragraph 35 defines windfall sites as those which have not been specifically identified as available in the local plan process, and could include for example large sites such as might result from a factory closure.
The application site is clearly a previously developed site, which Burton College intend to vacate as part of an overall package designed to consolidate facilities of the College in the centre of Burton upon Trent. It is situated within the village development boundary and falls within the 'windfall' definition as set out in paragraph 35 of the Guidance. The site is well served by public transport and its proximity to Burton upon Trent leads me to conclude that the proposal does not conflict with Government's aims in terms of the provision of new housing and sustainability.
The site is not allocated in the Local Plan; it does however lie within the development boundary of Rolleston on Dove. Whilst Policy H3 makes reference to small sites, PIPG 3, which postdates the adoption of the Local Plan 'is a material consideration which may supersede policies' in a local plan.
In terms of a requirement for affordable housing the applicant has agreed to negotiate for the provision of some starter/affordable private homes on the site.
In terms of infrastructure, as set out above, the site is well served by public transport. The Education Authority state that the capacity of the primary school is sufficient to accommodate the extra pupils generated by the proposal and providing a financial contribution is made in respect of secondary school places it has no objections.
In respect of the County Council's requirements for a financial contribution which is based on the actual number of houses, in view of the application being in outline, I consider any agreement under Section 106 should not make reference at this stage to a specific amount of money, but should be directly related to the number of houses to be erected pursuant to any submission of reserved matters application.
Neither the Environment Agency or Severn Trent Water have any objections to this development in terms of its effect on the drainage infrastructure.
The Head of Community Services confirms that -Rolleston is adequately provided-with sports and open space facilities. Retention of the existing pool facility on this brownfield site would be difficult to justify on the grounds of need and financial viability, and in respect of the sports hall, because of its limited size it would be difficult to programme a wide variety of uses, and would require a subsidy to run and-maintain.
Rolleston is within a 15 minute drive time of other facilities. which is one of the Sports Council's criteria as reasonable. In terms of swimming pools the Sports Council's criteria is one pool for 46,500 head of population, and other pools in the area meet this need.
I am awaiting the Education Authority's response relating to the loss of educational facilities.
In respect of the Highway Authority request for a T.I.A, a traffic appraisal has been carried out by the applicant's consultants which indicates that the development will result in reduced traffic flows, in that in its current use as an educational facility the site generates around 125 trips in the morning peak hours, with 83 in the evening peak, whereas a development of sixty houses will generate 50 trips in the morning peak and 56 trips in the evening peak. Consultants estimate the total daily trip generation to be around 650 trips currently, whereas this is predicted to fall to 125 trips generated by the proposed housing development.
The Highway Authority has now no objections and I must concur with that view. In order to encourage other means of transport I recommend a bus-turning facility and cycle route connections be included within the development and as requested a contribution to traffic management works on Station Road.
In terms of effect on neighbouring occupiers the application is in outline, but providing the development is sensitively designed, compliance with Local Plan policies regarding development can be achieved. I do however consider that a development brief should be prepared by either the local planning authority or a developer in consultation with the local planning authority, and the development carried out in accordance with the approved brief.
The consultation period expired on 17th May 2000.
Providing a Section 106 Agreement is first entered into regarding the preparation of and compliance with a development brief, provision of affordable housing to be negotiated, payment of a commuted sum in respect of the educational requirement dependant upon the number of houses to be erected, public open space to be provided in accordance with Local Plan policies including the payment of a commuted maintenance sum, provision of a footpath/cycle link to rear of the site boundary or a contribution of £5000 to upgrade the Jinnie Trail to cycleway status and a contribution of £10,000 to traffic management works on Station Road then PERMIT subject to conditions relating to reserved matters of layout including internal road layout to be designed to a maximum speed of 2Omph, traffic calming, levels, siting, design, appearance, landscaping, provision of a bus turning facility and means of disposal of foul and surface water and the requirements of the Highway Authority.
The Environment Agency recommends that finished floor levels are at least 60Omm above the 1 in 100 year flood level.
The Burton Constituency
House of Commons
21 April 2000
Educational Complex, Rolleston-on-Dove.
I am seeking your help in relation to the proposal by the Burton College to sell-off the education facilities, located in Rolleston-on-Dove, for housing development.
There are a number of areas in which this proposal could be objected to, including social, environmental and educational. The main one upon which I seek your help is that associated with education provision. However, I would also ask you to please check out the environmental aspects with the relevant government department.
As I understand it, from a press report dated 17 December, 1998, there is a requirement on all local authorities to notify the government should they seek to build on playing fields. I would be interested to know if, in this case, this directive applies as, although the playing field in question is now the property of the Burton College, it may still fall into the category of.-
‘all playing fields and other open spaces currently used, or used in the past five years, by educational institutions.’'
I take it that the Burton College is considered to be an 'educational institution'.
On the education front, I am extremely concerned at the critical situation that has steadily developed since the reorganisation or rationalisation (it has been called both) that took place in Burton upon Trent in 1985. To assist you in your analysis of this situation, I have drawn up an 'Historical Perspective' a copy of which is attached.
I have not taken this matter up with the Staffordshire County Council as I think the position is so critical that it now requires direct involvement from the 'centre'. Staffordshire County Council can, and most probably would seek to place responsibility (a) at central governments feet by claiming a lack of proper funding and/or (b) at the Borough Council's feet, claiming lack of proper control in planning and development (housing). On the other hand. the Borough Council could point the Finger at the County Council on the basis that educational provision is nothing to do with it, as this is a County Council responsibility.
The crux of this matter is clearly spelled out in item 2.1(m) of the attached Historical Perspective. I have highlighted this in red. The question is: in the face of this confirmed crisis. how can it be contemplated that available and established education facilities can be sold off, demolished and replaced by housing (thereby exacerbating an already critical position)?
I understand that the County Council all but made a gift of the assets at Rolleston to the Burton College and I anticipate that there will be a cost in retrieving these. It is also likely that there will be additional cost in returning the premises to a condition suitable for secondary education. Nevertheless. given the current state of the education service in the borough, whatever these costs. the buy-back and return to secondary education of these premises and facilities must surely be very seriously considered.
On the question of cost, it is my view that, to continue to fund capital projects in expanding the do Ferrers High School facilities is not the answer. The size of this complex is well beyond the stage of 'critical mass' and the costs of expansions will be totally out of proportion to any short term marginal improvements that they may achieved. The millions of pounds earmarked for expansion of these sites would be better employed in the re-purchase and setting up the Rolleston-on-Dove site for service as a secondary school.
It is interesting to note that one of the reasons the Burton College has given. for wishing to centralising its operations, is to eliminate the inefficiencies of managing and operating two sites. The do Ferrers High School has had to cope with exactly this problem over the last fifteen years. It really does not matter if the split is half a mile or three miles, the same management and operational difficulties, and inefficiencies exist. It is all credit to the staff of this school that, in spite of these difficulties, they have produced such high academic results and standards of behaviour from its pupils.
I will not go into the rights or wrongs of how education provision in East Staffordshire got into this sad and sorry state (I have said it all before). I will just let the information I have presented speak for its self. We are now almost at the point of 'no return', I am asking you again to please take up the case that I present for thorough and detailed investigation by the Department for Education and the Department of the Environment before it is actually is too late.
As a great many people are extremely interested in the subject matter of this letter, I request that you consider this as an open letter that I shall release to the Burton Mail and other interested bodies. I am extremely grateful to the Burton Mail as it has been my only source of information on this subject since 1985. Most of the information in my 'Historical Perspective' is based upon the paper's press reports which I filed away for future reference.
Finally, I should tell you that, I do not live in Rolleston-on-Dove, both of my children have long passed through the local education system (at the Forest of Needwood High School where I was privileged to serve both as governor and chairman of governors) and I do not belong to any political party. My motivation in pursuing this matter is simply a long held interest in education. I hope that you will accept that this status places me in a position to have an objective view, with no conflict of interests.
I look forward to hearing from you in due course.
Forest of Needwood, Wulfric & de Ferrers High Schools 1985 - 2000
An Historical Perspective
1.1 Location and Size of Rolleston School Site
Before its use as an annex to the Burton College the educational complex was used as a school, (Forest of Needwood High School) for the provision of secondary education. The school premises are located on a 25 acre site on the eastern side of the village of Rolleston-on-Dove.
1.2 The Site and-Facilities.
The site was occupied by the Forest of Needwood High School in September, 1963. The main building included the School Hall, Gymnasium, Science Laboratories. History, Modern Languages. Mathematics and Music Departments, together with administrative offices. Two additional buildings were brought into use in 1975. These were a Craft Centre, to which is attached a second School Hall, Sixth Form Centre, Swimming Pool and the Library Wing, (which included a large Library) the English Department a Lecture theatre and a Staff Room. In addition, seven detached classrooms (usually referred to as mobiles) accommodated the Religious Education and Rural Science Department. as well as being used as additional teaching spaces for several other subjects. The Playing Fields covered a sixteen acres facility, making provision for most, if not all. out door physical education needs.
1.3 Use of Facilities
As well as being employed as a secondary educational establishment, housing a school with an academic record and reputation second to none, the site facilities were extensively used by local groups and organisations, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings. Right up to the date of closure, the school was home to a large and thriving Evening Institute and the largest, and arguably the best, Youth Club in the County. It was on this basis, that the school was designated a 'Community School'.
1.4 Size of School
In September, 1983, Oust prior to its closure, the number of pupils in each of the school years 1 - V was between 175 and 200. The total number on roll was 1025, including over 90 students in the Sixth Form. About 775 families had children receiving their education at the school.
1.5 Reorganisation of Secondary Education
On the 16 th December, 1983, the Reorganisational Sub-Committee of the Staffordshire Education Committee, recommended to the Education Committee an option for the rationalisation of education provision in Burton upon Trent. This called for the amalgamation of the Forest of Needwood High School with the Wulfric High School to form a new School, (the de Ferrers High School) based on the two sites occupied by the Wulfric School and leading to the closure of the Forrest of Needwood. The County Council initiated a consultation exercise with the schools involved.,
1.6 Rational for the Amalgamation.
The prime reason presented by the County Authority for the amalgamation was based upon:-
(a) a perception that failing rolls in schools in the East Staffordshire District would create an unacceptable number of surplus places in secondary schools in the area;
(b) an assessment that mobile classrooms were inappropriate teaching spaces as well as being costly to install, service and maintain.
In both cases, the aim was to reduce costs and, at the same time, maintain the standard of educational provision. It was considered that by closing one school, this would lead to the filling of empty places in the remaining schools - thus reducing employment, operating and maintenance costs and thereby producing schools that were "economically and educationally viable". In addition, it was stated that the removal of mobile classrooms would also make a significant contribution to both improving the standard of education provision and a reduction in the costs associated with that provision.
Note: The County Councils criterion for an economically and educationally viable school was one having six forms of entry, resulting in 800 to 900 pupils on roll. (see 1.4 for the position of the Forest of Neewood High School within this numerical criterion)
1.7 Opposition to the Reorganisation Proposals.
There was overwhelming opposition to the County Council's reorganisation proposals from the population of the Dove Valley's communities. Full details of the basis for this opposition are contained in a submission sent, (by the Forest of Needwood School Governors) to the Secretary of Sate for Education and Science on 4th. September, 1984. ( A full transcript of this document is available if required).
(a) The submission to the Secretary of State was based upon a factual and detailed investigation into the likely ramifications should the proposals made by the Local Education Authority (L.E.A.) be implemented.
(b) Statistical evidence included clearly indicated that, although at the time there was a fall in the number of secondary school pupils on roll in Burton upon Trent schools, this was a short-term development. Analysis showed that, "by the 1990's, pupil numbers would be very similar to those that existed in the 1970's when, (based upon the Education Committee's 1984 criteria) schools were economically and educational viable".
1.8 Conclusions Drawn by Opposition
The conclusion of these investigations, which also included an analysis of industrial, business and house building trends, was that
"there is a strong case for retaining not only the Forest of Needwood High School. but also the other Burton Schools, as the reduction of secondary school pupils may well be a relatively short lived situation covering only the next 4-5 years".
1.9 Result of the Consultation Exercise
(a) At the end of the Consultation, and in spite of the conclusions reached by the Forest Of Needwood High School Governors in their Submission, the County Council chose to proceeded with the proposals as recommended to the Education Committee by the 1983 Reorganisation Committee. In 1985, the amalgamation took place and the Forest of Needwood High School was closed.
(b) In 1991, the Rolleston-on-Dove school premises were 'inherited' by the Burton College in order to provide replacement teaching facilities "with little capital cost".
2.0 Development in Secondary Education Since 1985
2.1 Immediate impact
During the consultation process the Staffordshire County Council stated that the Wulfric complex, (spread over two sites approximately 0.5 miles apart) with 'minor works' improvement would have capacity for 1600 pupils, and that this would provide more than adequate provision for their estimated number of secondary pupils in the school system. However, almost immediately, cracks began to appear in the system.
(a) April 1986 (only one year after the amalgamation) the then Headmaster of the newly formed school (de Ferrers High School) was reported to have forecast a school of 1400 to 1500 pupils on roll.
(b) 1988 Parish profiles published by the County Council showed that the de Ferrers High School had 1,800 pupils on roll. (Already, according to the Council's criterion, equal to two economically and educationally viable schools)'.
(c) February 1989 application was made to reinstall mobile classrooms on the de Ferrers High School.
(d) October 1990 it was reported that -"County education Chiefs fear adverse effects on schools across the Burton area if large scale housing developments are allowed to proceed. Any sudden increase would place enormous pressure on Schools. Already soaring numbers at one Burton School could mean tile provision of temporary (Mobile) classrooms by the autumn. Staffordshire County Council looks set to approve the scheme this week after three years of pressure from de Ferrers High School - struggling to cope with the National Curriculum"
(e) July 1993 Staffordshire Education Committee decides to modify the de Ferrers High School's catchment area and direct pupils across Burton to schools having spare capacity. Subsequently, as a result of the reaction and intense pressure from parents, this intention was eventually withdrawn and tile County Council embarked upon a high cost building programme to extend the school.
(f) August 1993 the then Head Master at the de Ferrers High School was reported to say "The school is big enough, it is unfortunate to have a large school and small schools in the town. Educationally for Burton, I think the size should be more even."
(g) October 1993 In spite of restriction on spending contained in earlier press reports, L.E.A announces £1M expansion plan for de Ferrers High School – including more mobile classrooms. First phase cost given as £1,110.000. Spokesman for County Council quoted as saying that the expansion would provide for 2000 pupils but that even then, some children will be directed to other schools across the town.
(h) December 1993 feeder schools in the immediate area are reported to be bursting at the seams, more mobile classrooms installed.
(i) January 1995 OFSTED inspectors, whilst speaking highly of the schools achievements, also identify a serious lack of recourses.
(j) January 1995 the then Headmaster of the School is reported to be concerned at the difficulties of managing due to a lack of space in 9 relation to the number of pupils on each site.
(k) January 1995 Local press reported a meeting between the Governors at the de Ferrers and the Chief Ed. Officer and Chair of Ed. Committee. This reportedly resulted in the L.E.A. seeking meeting with Secretary of State for Education on a "vital £4M" building project.
(l) April 1995 de Ferrers High School, Staffordshire's biggest, with 1800 pupils was offered £200,000 towards the cost of building work by Staffordshire County Council. The cash was to be used for four new classrooms, toilets and widening corridors on the lower school site. This was said not to be enough,failing far short of the £1.5M required for completion of the first phase of building work. It was stated that £3.5M was needed to cope with the growing numbers of pupils. At the same time, it was said that Government Inspectors had reported that, althougli the school was academically successful, it was under funded, under staffed and over crowded.
(m) 29th March 2000 it was reported that - "Every secondary school in East Staffordshire is officially overcrowded, new figures have revealed. Education bosses are also predicting the borough will be worst hit by a surge in secondary school pupils throughout Staffordshire in the coming years. None of the borough’s six secondary schools have any spare capacity, with all of them having more pupils on roll than their Government calculated capacities."
'The last four years has already seen the number of secondary school pupils in the borough rise by 4.7%. This figure is expected to rise by a further. 9% in the next five years, which represents 800 pupils." This situation could even worsen if housing allocations in the borough’s local plan and Staffordshire County Council’s structure plan are taken up." This report also said that, East Staffordshire has the highest number of mobile classrooms in the county.
(n) August 1999 L.E.A. reduces the standard number for the admission of pupils of secondary school age to the Abbot Beyne, and Paulet High Schools. This reduction was made on the grounds that, if the schools continued to admit pupils up to the then current standard numbers, the numbers would exceed the schools' capacities to accommodate pupils. At the same time, the standard number for admission at the de Ferrers High School was increased (from 279 to 310).
(o) January 2000 Headmaster at the de Ferrers High School reportedly stated that, although the school was concerned about pupils having to carry heavy bags containing books, the school could not provide lockers for pupils, - not because of cost - but because of space
3.0 Burton College
(a) 1998 having 'inherited' the Rolieston Site in 1991, the Burton College announced its intention to sell it off, in order to fund the provision of alternative buildings adjacent to its main town complex. However, this proposal would only be viable if the village envelope was redefined at the next possible revision date and if this redefinition allowed for additional building on the school playing field.
(b) 3rd December 1998 at public meeting held in the village, the college's plans met with almost universal hostility. Whilst a majority of residents remained committed to seeing the premises returned to secondary education service, others accepted that, if the site was sold for development, it would be difficult to object to housing being built on that area ofthe site where buildings already existed. However, there was total opposition to the college's intention to push housing development into the existing playing field area.
(c) 14th April 2000 it was reported that the Burton College had submitted formal planning applications to the East Staffordshire Borough Council for the sale and subsequent development of that part of the site which fails within the village envelope. It was said that demolishing the existing school buildings would make way for around 60 houses. In addition, the report confirmed that tile College would "try to get the adjoining playing fields earmarked for housing in the next local plan, making way for around another 150 homes."
Note: On the basis of these figures, this would mean around about 210 additional homes/families to be provided for.
4.0 Housing Development
(a) As well as the potential for 210 houses to be buiIt on the Rolleston school site, within the last two years an additional 325 homes have been built in the village of Stretton, up to 40 houses are currently under construction in Rolleston-on-Dove and there is yet another major house building operation currently underway on Tutbury Road.
(b) In addition to building work recently completed and in progress, additional planning applications are in the pipeline for yet further housing development in the immediate area.
(c) In the greater Burton upon Trent area, there has been large-scale housing development in Branston, (with another application for further major housing development in the system). This means that the spare capacity that did exist in the Paget High School and the Abbot Beyne High School has now been taken up.
(d) All these current and other potential housing developments (some stimulated by the Burton upon Trent's increasing business and industrial developments, others by Borough and County structure plans) will add further strain to a local education system already stretched beyond its elastic limit and approaching yield or even breaking point.
K.I.Green. (21 April, 2000)
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Last updated: 14 July 2000