Swanage free school bid goes before district council

Bournemouth Echo: IDEA: An artist’s impression of the new school campus IDEA: An artist’s impression of the new school campus

DISTRICT chiefs have stopped short of fully endorsing Swanage’s new secondary school plans, amid objections from Sport England.

Purbeck District Council’s planning board says it will approve official plans for the new school, but only after first attempting to reach some sort of agreement with the sports organisation.

Sport England bosses are objecting about the loss of existing playing fields at the Swanage Middle School site, which will eventually become the new secondary school campus.

Cllr Peter Wharf, chairman of the district council’s planning board, said: “The planning board supported the free school proposal, but could not issue a decision at their meeting because of a formal objection by Sport England.

“Council officers are working hard to overcome the objection. If this happens before the next planning board meeting this month, officers have been given the authority by the planning board to issue an approval.

“If Sport England maintains its objection, the matter will need to be referred back to the next meeting of the planning board.”

Last year Dorset County Council rubber-stamped a move allowing part of the Swanage Middle School site – which is set for closure – to be used by the new secondary school. This site will be divided between The Swanage School and St Mark’s new primary.

The Education Swanage group has battled to establish free secondary schooling in the town since county officials sanctioned a district-wide shake-up two years ago.

As it stands, the fledgling secondary’s first pupils will be taught at Swanage’s Harrow House for at least one term before moving to their new premises.

The new two-storey secondary school, set for the corner of High Street and Washpond Lane, will boast two wings protruding from a central hall.

Comments (2)

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4:31pm Thu 7 Feb 13

Melanie.Read12 says...

Looking at that picture, the sports field is only losing the very far corner. It's been 21 years since I was last a pupil at SMS, but as I recall that area had the edge of the back straight of the 400m running track, and nothing else - just unused grass, where no-one went (even at breaks and lunchtimes).
The cricket pitch, rounders area, hockey/football/rugb
y pitches were back towards the main school building, by the stream, and wouldn't be affected by this. There is a football pitch shown on the plans still.
It looks as though there would still be sufficient area for the running track too, just oriented differently.
The field at SMS is very large, so I think SportEngland are being over-cautious in this instance.
Looking at that picture, the sports field is only losing the very far corner. It's been 21 years since I was last a pupil at SMS, but as I recall that area had the edge of the back straight of the 400m running track, and nothing else - just unused grass, where no-one went (even at breaks and lunchtimes). The cricket pitch, rounders area, hockey/football/rugb y pitches were back towards the main school building, by the stream, and wouldn't be affected by this. There is a football pitch shown on the plans still. It looks as though there would still be sufficient area for the running track too, just oriented differently. The field at SMS is very large, so I think SportEngland are being over-cautious in this instance. Melanie.Read12

5:27pm Thu 7 Feb 13

PaulAngel says...

As Chair of Governors of The Swanage School I'd like to correct this report. There was never a 'row', merely a technical objection. As a statutory consultee Sport England needed to be satisfied that the loss of part of the playing field would be offset by new sports provision.

This afternoon District Planners have confirmed in writing that Sport England's objection has been withdrawn as they are now entirely satisfied that the new school and community sports facilities, combined with new pitches being created for two Primary schools in Swanage, fully compensate for the footprint of the new buildings.

Further information can be found on the school website at www.theswanageschool
.co.uk or on our Facebook page - search for SwanageSchool to find it.
As Chair of Governors of The Swanage School I'd like to correct this report. There was never a 'row', merely a technical objection. As a statutory consultee Sport England needed to be satisfied that the loss of part of the playing field would be offset by new sports provision. This afternoon District Planners have confirmed in writing that Sport England's objection has been withdrawn as they are now entirely satisfied that the new school and community sports facilities, combined with new pitches being created for two Primary schools in Swanage, fully compensate for the footprint of the new buildings. Further information can be found on the school website at www.theswanageschool .co.uk or on our Facebook page - search for SwanageSchool to find it. PaulAngel

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