Green Light for £2.4m Sixth Form Centre Funding

Funding of £2.4m for a new sixth form centre at Stowupland High School, has been given the green light by councillors at Mid Suffolk District Council today.

With District Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding of £2,446,575 now approved, plans to build a new sixth form centre at Stowupland High School will enable an increase of 140 sixth form and secondary school places.

The project, which has been a collaboration between Mid Suffolk District Council, Suffolk County Council and Stowupland High School Academy, already has funding from Suffolk County Council (£533K) and is the first education high school expansion since CIL was introduced in 2016.

CIL is collected from developers when they build new properties in the districts, with the aim of making sure local infrastructure can keep up with housing growth.

The funding follows planning permission for the centre which was granted by Suffolk County Council’s Development and Regulation Committee in October earlier this year, in response to housing growth in the local area.

Works will also include significant improvements to site access by car and school bus with a new parking area for seven coaches and a 57-space car park which are above the requirements of the Suffolk Parking Standards.

Cycling and walking access will also be improved, with additional cycle parking, new cycle/footpath and a pupil drop-off area aimed at reducing traffic issues elsewhere in the village at peak times.

The existing sixth form will relocate from the main building into the new space once complete, creating 15 new sixth form places, from 185 to 200, and a further 125 high school places, from 925 to 1,050.

Building work is expected to start over the coming month, with the new centre opening by September 2020.

Cllr David Burn, Mid Suffolk District Council’s cabinet member for Planning, said:

“It’s great news Mid Suffolk has been able to approve such a significant amount of CIL funding for the new sixth form centre – the first of its kind for since the levy was introduced.

“This nearly £2.5m investment furthers the aims in our Infrastructure Delivery Plan and, by supporting local infrastructure in a key housing growth area, will contribute to the four priority areas identified in the Joint Local Plan – economy, environment, housing, and healthy communities & Infrastructure.”

Cllr Mary Evans, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills at Suffolk County Council, said:

“This project provides an excellent basis for future public sector working on major infrastructure projects in Suffolk. Pooling county and district funding streams not only helps us to achieve best value for the taxpayer but, in this case, means that the Stowupland area will have the education facilities it needs to meet local demand for school places in the area. CIL funding is a vital element in this process and I am very pleased that there is a shared understanding about how we should use it to obtain the very best advantage for Suffolk communities.”

Karen Grimes, chief executive of the John Milton Academy Trust, which runs Stowupland High School, said:

“After much hard work, and extensive consultation, I’m absolutely delighted that this amazing project is now set to come to fruition. Not only will it allow us to expand the school to meet the demand for places, but it will also become a key community space beyond the school day. The next step is to get construction underway, but we’ll also be working closely with all parties to develop a Community User Agreement setting out how the space is to be used after hours. 

“Our partnership with the University of Suffolk makes this venture particularly exciting with the option of access courses being available during the evening and in holiday periods. This is set to be a superb resource, both for the school and local community.”

Councillor Keith Welham, ward member for Haughley, Stowupland and Wetherden, said:

“I support the principle of developing a high standard and sustainable sixth form at Stowupland High School but there are a number of concerns that should have been addressed as part of the planning and CIL bidding process. 

“Consideration should have been given to measures to reduce traffic congestion caused by parents dropping off and picking up pupils and to improve road safety.  There is no provision for sixth form students to park on site, and no improvement to the school access on to A1120.  We need to have further discussions and I look forward to working with partners to address these outstanding issues.”

District CIL is income retained by the district council to spend on infrastructure to support development. This money must be applied for and the decision to spend amounts above a certain level has to be taken by Cabinet.

Further information about how the CIL works can be found on the councils website, with details about how the levy has been allocated available on the councils’ award-winning Developer Contributions Database.

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