Redhill primary school – why the delays?

Cllr Jonathan Essex and I attended an extraordinary meeting at the town hall on Monday.

The meeting was to discuss the site of the much needed primary school to the north of Redhill. This school has been much needed for years of course, ever since work began on building the Park 25 and Water Colour estates.

Surrey County Council (SCC), the education authority for this area, finally got around to identifying its preferred site just over a year ago. Surprisingly, the site was at Battlebridge, on a popular skate park, and, more importantly, on the last remaining patch of Green Belt land separating Redhill and Merstham.

The Battlebridge site has other problems that make it less than ideal for a school – these have been well aired in the Surrey Mirror and elsewhere on this website.

Your Green Party councillors have been asking questions, to understand how that particular site was chosen, and what other sites were rejected. Getting answers to these questions proved something of a struggle.  We did eventually receive a map showing 17 locations that had apparently been considered, but no indication of the selection criteria used. Residents also suggested other sites that seemed far more appropriate, but as far as we can tell, none of these has been added to the list for consideration.

This was still the situation at Monday’s meeting. Another year has gone by, and the school is no closer to being built, anywhere.

On Monday night, for the first time, we had access to members and officers of Surrey County Council. We were assured there is a site selection process (phew!), and were given a brief overview of some of the selection criteria that were used. But we, and the public, are still not able to see the assessments of the various sites. These will only be made public when a planning application is made for the Battlebridge site – which seems a little late in the day for public consultation.

And, why has there still not been a planning application?

Cllr Essex and I were very surprised to be asked in the meeting if we would be willing to “give the green light” to allow SCC to put forward a planning application for the Battlebridge site. That’s not our job, or even in our power, it’s the County Council’s job – and something they have failed to do to date.

Together with local parents and other residents, we want to see our County Council make sure the best school gets built in the best place as quickly as possible. That’s why we have been asking questions and trying to shine a little light on what should have been a public and transparent process from the start.

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