New primary school "will be built" in Worksop despite concerns
A new primary school will be built on a Worksop estate despite concerns over a lack of substantial progress on the plans.
However, no specific timeframe has been provided on when it will become a reality – despite previous council documents stating it was scheduled to begin construction this year.
Nottinghamshire County Council has confirmed it will progress with the planned 210-place school, in the Gateford area, which has been in the pipeline since 2014.
The new primary school was approved as part of the multi-million-pound Gateford Park development off Churchill Way, which also includes hundreds of new homes and was approved eight years ago.
But no planning application has yet been submitted for the school and concerns have been raised it may never come to fruition.
The Conservative-led authority says it has five years to start building work on the site, but Labour says the uncertainty over when it will be built is creating “anxieties and stresses” among residents on the estate.
The comments come after concerns were raised that the lack of progress could lead to a section 106 developer agreement, which includes funding pledged for the school, being handed back to the Gateford Park developers.
The agreement includes a £2.567 million pledge to deliver the school, which would be supplemented by £433,000 from Bassetlaw Community Infrastructure levy funds.
A further £1.64 million could be made available to expand the school from 210 places to 315 places – if that was required in the future.
Conversations are currently ongoing between the authority and the developer to vary the section 106 agreement, which the council says would allow more time to transfer the land and begin the building work.
But Labour councillors have asked for assurances from the Conservative administration over its commitment to deliver the new school in its entirety.
Speaking during the authority’s full council meeting on Thursday, Councillor Keith Girling, chairman of the economic development and asset management committee, moved to ease the concerns.
He said: “The council will be delivering a new school at Gateford in Worksop.
“We are taking appropriate steps to make sure the developer meets their obligation to provide land and funding contribution for a new primary school, so that the land and monies are retained.
“We do not intend on handing them back. Negotiations are currently taking place with the developer for the transfer of land for the new school.”
He added: “Once the land has been transferred, the council is expected to have up to five years to start the building of the new school.
“The council is yet to decide exactly when the school will be constructed and is in discussions to vary the legal agreement to ensure there is sufficient time for the school development to be progressed.
“[This is] not to cancel the agreement with the developers.”
His comments came after coun Sybil Fielding, who represents Worksop West, used her constituency speech to relay concerns over whether the school will ever be built.
She drew on previous council reports from 2020 which stated the school was expected to begin construction in 2022, operating on a 52-week build, meaning it would be delivered “no later than 2023”.
She added: “Chairman, the council supports a new school in Worksop West by 2023.
“But today, hundreds of homes have been built, the land has not been acquired by the county council and planning permission has not been applied for.
“There have been no firm updates or expected progress with the school. It would be unfair today not to highlight the anxieties and stresses experienced by families dispersed across Worksop.
“I simply want the best for the families I represent and ask for collaborative working to ensure this school is built.”
She asked for Coun Girling to confirm whether the authority planned to deliver the school within the specified timeframe, but this guarantee was not given in the EDAM chairman’s later comments.
After the meeting, Coun Fielding launched a petition, along with Worksop district councillors Neil Sanders and Maria Charlesworth, calling on the county council to “get on” with delivering a school.
Coun Fielding said: “County Hall agreed to build Gateford Manor Primary by 2023 and are now trying to wriggle out of the agreement they made. It simply isn’t good enough.
“Hundreds of houses have been built meanwhile County Hall have taken no action to build the school they promised.
“It’s time for people to have their say and I would encourage everyone that wants to see the new school built in Gateford to back this important petition.
“It’s high time that Notts County Council cut out the waffle and got on with building the school.”
In response, Coun Girling said: “Residents can be assured that Nottinghamshire County Council will be delivering a new primary school in the Gateford area of Worksop.
"The council is taking the appropriate steps to ensure that the developer meets their obligation to provide land and a funding contribution for a new school.”
“Unfortunately, certain local councillors have been stirring up unnecessary public concern and creating a publicity campaign for themselves with misleading comments and leaflets, which is unhelpful and irresponsible, but it doesn’t change our intention to get the new school built as soon as the necessary procedures have been completed.”