Why Battlebridge? We challenge Surrey County Council’s lack of research into potential school sites

School bike parking

Local primary schools have had to take on extra classes.

Redhill urgently needs a new primary school.

Building 1,000 new homes in Park 25 and Water Colour alone inevitably increased the need for school places – and local schools are bursting at the seams while many families are forced to travel long distances every day to get their children to school.

The developers who built the new estates provided money for school places, and Surrey County Council is obliged to build a new school by 2014.

No space for a school

But since the Council has allowed just about every available piece of land in the town to be built on, Surrey has a challenge on its hands finding space for the much-needed new school.

After years of rumours, the skate park field at Battlebridge Lane has emerged as the preferred site –  and was enthusiastically backed by Conservative Councilors in their election campaign this year.

But is Battlebridge Lane really the right site? And how hard has Surrey County Council actually tried to find a good location?

Green Belt 

Battlebridge Lane is far from ideal – it would mean the loss of recreational space; it’s too small, meaning shared use would need to be negotiated with the recreation ground next door. It presents serious traffic and parking challenges.

And above all, it is Green Belt land, and building here would remove the Green Belt separating Redhill from Merstham.

Local residents are rightly asking why a site with so many drawbacks has been chosen.  And your Green Councillors have repeatedly asked for details of which alternative sites have been considered and what criteria are used to assess them.

17 sites

We finally received a list of 17 sites in July. It was surprising, to say the least. Some obvious sites are missing, and some of the 17 included are bizarre and could never have been progressed anyway.  You can read more about this in this week’s Surrey Mirror.

We have still not received any information on how the sites were assessed, and the comments by the SCC schools portfolio holder in the Surrey Mirror do little to inspire confidence that a consistent set of criteria were used.

It is hard to have confidence that Surrey is taking Redhill families’ needs seriously.  Had they carried out a proper search sooner, the school could have been built by now.  Instead, they are still apparently negotiating to buy a site that hardly anyone, except some Conservative Councillors, feels is suitable.

Joined up thinking needed 

And in the long term, we have to stop building ever more housing without first providing the schools and other community facilities we already need.

The current approach ends up forcing community facilities onto Green Belt sites on the edge of town.

We need a more joined-up approach. The need for new schools and community facilities must be factored in at the design stage of any new developments, not treated as an inconvenient afterthought.

Read the Surrey Mirror‘s coverage of our campaign 

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. chris west
    Posted Friday, 10 August 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    So, What can we, the public, do to put pressure on the county council to rethink their strategies, if anything?!

  2. Councillor Bryn Truscott
    Posted Thursday, 16 August 2012 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Hi Chris
    One option would be to address your concerns to your County Councillor, Lynne Hack – lynne.hack@surreycc.gov.uk .

    Another (which may be more productive) would be to get in touch with a local residents group which has formed around this issue. They aren’t affiliated with the Green Party (despite what some non-Green Party councillors might try and imply!) but we think they are doing interesting work, and I’m sure they would value any extra assistance. If you (or anyone else) would like to drop us an email with your details to info@redhillgreens.org.uk , we will pass them on.

    Best wishes
    Bryn

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