Woking council defends plans to build secondary school on greenbelt 

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Woking Borough Council say it is an exceptional case and the town is desperate for more school place

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6:00am 11th March 2015
(Updated 6:27am 11th March 2015)

Plans to build a new secondary school on Woking’s greenbelt have been put forward.

Subject to planning permission, the Hoe Valley school will provide over 800 places by 2017.

Woking Borough Council have defended the decision to build on the greenbelt site at Egley Road.

They say it is an exceptional case and the town is desperate for more school places.

Claerwyn Hamilton-Wilkes is Vice Chair Governor for Hoe Valley School: “Some of the local residents may not be that supportive but we’ll be working really hard to mitigate any of their concerns.

“What people need to remember as well is that the children and the parents are local residents as well, so for them it’s a really good news story.

“The school is set quite far back from the road, and with the existing tree line it won’t look awfully different to how it does now.

“The views from the hillside will look similar, we’re keeping the trees so it’ll still be a green open space.”

The proposed facilities for the school include a state-of-the-art building offering two teaching blocks, main hall, dining and reception areas, shared car parking, with access to hard court play areas, sports fields and leisure facilities.

Hoe Valley 2Lynne O’Reilly, Chair of Governors at Hoe Valley School, said: “The Egley Road site is a perfect location for us, situated right in the heart of the community we aim to serve.

“Most of our students will be able to walk or cycle to the school and will offer an outstanding local option for children in the south Woking area.

“As well as having a brand new school with its state-of-the-art learning environment, our students will also benefit from access to the extensive leisure facilities on site.

“We are delighted with the proposed site and with the huge support we have received from local parents and Woking Borough Council.”

Councillor John Kingsbury, Leader of Woking Borough Council, said: “In recent years, Woking has experienced a significant increase in demand for secondary school places.

“The County Council has projected that Woking will require an additional 90 secondary school places by 2017, equivalent to three school forms, and a further 210 school places by 2021.

“It is essential that, as our Borough continues to evolve, we have the educational infrastructure in place to support this level of growth.

“I am, however, acutely aware of the impact this announcement may have on local residents and the fact that the proposed site is designated Green Belt land.

“Yet these are very special circumstances and the need to provide young people within our community with a good local education is the responsibility of us all.

“I hope local people will support this proposal.”

Hoe Valley School will be a community secondary school with four forms of entry and will include a sixth form.

It will open, subject to planning approval being granted, in September 2015 at a temporary site, in the coach park area serving Woking Park, with 120 Year 7 students.

When at capacity at its permanent site in Egley Road, the school will have 840 students across seven year groups.

Councillor Will Forster, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Woking Borough Council and the local County Councillor, said: “There is no doubt that my south Woking division desperately needs to be served by its own local secondary school, and both the Borough and County Council believe that the Egley Road site is the only viable location.

“I am passionate about our Green Belt, so reluctant to support any development in the Green Belt,
but this situation seems to demonstrate very special circumstances.

“Freemantles School off Mayford Green was built as a special exception to Green Belt rules and has not damaged Mayford’s special status in the Green Belt.

“However, the detail of this proposal will need to be tested through the planning system and I would welcome residents’ thoughts on this plan.”

Paul Bocking of Leigh Place Properties, said: “We are pleased to be able to help the Council
facilitate the delivery of the secondary school and provide community leisure facilities.

“My father and the family have lived in Woking since the early 1960s and, as local farmers, it is rewarding to know we have helped to secure the future of young people by the sale of our land.”

The multi-million pound school will be financed by the Education Funding Agency with the community leisure facilities financed by Woking Borough Council.