Capital idea for school places in Brighton and Hove

Posted On 20 Feb 2013 at 10:06 am

The budget for Brighton and Hove includes a proposal to spend £10 million on new and extended primary school buildings in the year from April.

The building programme comes on top of £9 million allocated in the current financial year, which runs until the end of March.

The sums will be decided at the annual budget meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council on Thursday 28 February when the council tax will also be set.

The £10 million set aside for school building works is part of an £83 million capital spending pot for the coming financial year, down from £98 million budgeted for the current year.

This is not for day to day such as wages and bills for things like electricity, water and phones. It’s for big projects like new buildings, road schemes and investment in technology.

As well as the money for primary school places, the proposed 2013-14 capital budget includes

  • £27 million for housing
  • £6.9 million for new transport and street lighting and
  • £12.6 million for regeneration schemes.

The regeneration projects include

  • the revamp of The Level, including the playground and skate park
  • another tranche of cash for The Keep in Falmer where the historical archives for Brighton and Hove and East Sussex will be housed
  • extra adult care beds at Craven Vale in Brighton
  • improvements to the Withdean Sports Complex and running track
  • the new Woodingdean library and medical centre and
  • a loan to support the £38 million i360 project by the West Pier.

Government grants totalling £26 million and £23 million of borrowing will fund more than half of the capital budget.

The lottery, money from developers and receipts from the sale of council houses and other buildings also go into the pot.

The money for primary schools funds part of a plan to provide an extra 150 places – or five forms of entry – by September 2015.

Thirty places are needed in Brighton by September 2014 and the rest are intended for Hove.

Next September, Aldrington Church of England Primary School in Eridge Road, Hove, will open its doors to an extra class or form of entry.

Plans to add an extra class to Stanford Infant School in Highcroft Villas, Brighton, have been put on hold.

The Connaught Centre

When the council was run by the Conservatives, plans were put in place for places to be provided at the Connaught Centre in Hove.

The site is run as an annex of West Hove Infant School in Portland Road. It opened in September 2011 but its expansion is behind the original schedule.

Critics have decried the policy as one of make do and mend. It is in contrast to the hopes of some parents, professionals and politicians for a new primary school.

The Green Party, which runs Brighton and Hove City Council, would like to open a new school.

The government requires any new school to be a type of state school known as a free school or academy.

And the Greens are opposed to free schools and academies as they are not as accountable to councillors as traditional local authority maintained schools.

So over the past few years the Greens have kept to the policy of adding a class here and another one there while keeping up the search for a new site.

They hope to buy Hove Police Station in Holland Road from Sussex Police, having opened new offices for neighbourhood police at Hove Town Hall last week.

If the deal is sealed, as expected, the building is likely to be converted into a primary school.

It may well be run along the lines of the Connaught Centre. Davigdor Infant School or Somerhill Junior School are near by in Somerhill Road, Hove, and could be asked to take it on.

The council has previously identified land close to the Engineerium at the northern end of Hove Park as suitable for a primary school.

While the Greens may not be fond of free schools, it may prove ideal for the Bilingual Primary School which has a temporary home in Falmer.

The proximity to Hove Park School could work well given the shared expertise in foreign language teaching.

And for older children, the proposed King’s School is aiming to open in September.

It looks likely to take over the premises currently used for sixth formers at the Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA) in High Street, Portslade.

The new Church of England school could help the council pre-empt the predicted shortage of secondary school places in a few years’ time although some question whether Portslade is the right location. PACA is a mile away and undersubscribed.

Education chiefs also hope to build a secondary school in Toads Hole Valley in Hangleton along with 700 new homes. Again, some have questioned the location given Hove Park and Blatchington Mill are so near and that the area in greatest need of a school is south of Old Shoreham Road.

The council may have to make do and mend at times but the scheme beside the A27 Brighton bypass also shows a determination to make capital plans.

 

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