PLANS FOR a new school in Winnersh will take the next step next week as the executive committee discusses a land lease.
The borough council is proposing to build a special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) school at Winnersh Farm, but the executive committee need to discuss the lease of the site to the Department for Education (DfE).
If approval is granted, the 125-year lease will allow the DfE to prepare detailed designs for consultation with Winnersh residents later this year.
The free school would cater for 150 children and young people of all ages from Wokingham and Reading.
It has been backed by Wokingham and Reading Borough Councils in partnership with Brighter Futures for Children.
And if built, it will be funded by the DfE and managed by the Maiden Erlegh Trust.
Cllr UllaKarin Clark, executive member for children’s services at Wokingham Borough Council said the new school would bring huge benefits for young people and their families.
“Reducing the need to travel long distances out of borough each day, allowing children to benefit from the wider school experience and a high quality education as well as reduce pressure on families who have to work their lives around a much longer school day,” she said.
“There would also be wider financial benefits for Wokingham which could see a saving of between £1.5 and £2.2m a year when compared to the cost of providing more expensive out of area places.”
Cllr Ashley Pearce, Reading Borough Council lead member for education, said he is delighted to see the project progress.
“High quality SEND provision close to home is essential for a child’s education and wellbeing,” he added. “Alongside other new provisions, this new site would provide huge benefits to children and families in Reading. I look forward to further progress being made over the next few months.”
Cllr Prue Bray, Liberal Democrat lead for education and Winnersh councillor said she was happy to see the plans progress.
She told Wokingham.Today: “I think most people understand we need the provision in the borough. It’s a win win for everybody — it’s very necessary.”
If the lease is approved, public consultation will begin later this year with a planning application submitted in early 2021.
It is hoped to open to pupils in September 2022.
And the plans to build approximately 150 new homes next door is still on the cards. Included in the draft Local Plan Update, some of the remaining site will be used for new homes with access off Woodward Close.
Cllr Bray said Winnersh Parish Council had suggested a SEND school and 20 to 30 affordable homes nearby. But she is concerned the borough council and private developers may build more than 150 homes at the farm site.
Any plans for housing development would be brought forward for public engagement nearer the time, and the borough council said new houses will not affect the existing allotments.