'Wrong place - wrong time' - anger as plans to build huge new secondary school in Daventry get a step closer
Controversial plans to build a huge new secondary school on green space in Daventry are moving forward despite major opposition.
The new 1,050-space secondary school could be built on Eastern Way and be run by the Tove Learning Trust.
Site assessments for what would be called Sponne School Daventry are now taking place.
West Northants Cllr Wendy Randall, (Daventry West), said: "Having a school build on Eastern Way is an absolute no. It's in the wrong place and it's the wrong time.
"A new school would destabilise the other two existing schools as people are drawn to a shiny new school. There's also the high risk of them not filling the school because the other schools are good. That would leave three unviable schools."
She said traffic would increase, along with the risk of accidents.
"You're already taking your life into your own hands there," Cllr Randall added.
"Eastern Way is a valuable piece of land. I'm against losing that beautiful open space and I woud go against anything being built on there, unless it was some kind of park."
Scores of people took to the Daventry Express Facebook page when asked their views about the proposed location of the new school.
Miranda Osborne said: "We can’t keep losing our green spaces, there are plenty of other more suitable sites across the town. Ashby Road is a nightmare every morning and afternoon as it is."
Lindsey Ede said the school would be better placed near the new estates.
"Better sites would be Middlemore/Monksmoor," she said.
"It would be a huge mistake to lose that green space also."
The Department for Education (DfE) approved a secondary school some years ago as part of a free schools programme.
Daventry MP Chris Heaton-Harris said getting a free school into the town is important.
He said: "Currently, our local schools are on the up and the academy chain that runs them is doing a very good job. However, that has not always been the case.
"When I became the MP, I was keen to introduce some competition into our local education system. Alas, over the years the local secondary schools had not performed as well as they should and hundreds of students were travelling out of the town for their education.
"Major investment into educational buildings tends to fall to central Government and so I was pleased when David Cameron’s Government chose Daventry as the site of one of the first University Technical Colleges. That type of education system didn’t work out here, but it did shake things up and we now have a beautiful building in which the Parker Academy now resides.
"Since the idea of 'free schools' came about I’ve been keen to encourage one to come to Daventry. Not just to provide that extra element of competition to ensure the improvement we’ve seen in our local schools is maintained, but also as we have a growing town and it will not be long before the two improving secondary schools are both full - so proper plans and investment are needed to future-proof Daventry’s education provision."
Plans to dispose of the green space were approved by district councillors last year.
The MP said funding from central Government to build a new secondary school is hard to come by.
"It is well known this sort of investment brings jobs and opportunity for generations to come - and so I’m delighted that for a while now the Government has been asking the council to find an appropriate site for a new secondary school," he added.
"I do worry that were we to say "no thanks" to the funding now the tougher economic times we are likely to have ahead will mean future funding of this type could not be guaranteed going forward.
"I know the site that is currently being talked about is controversial; indeed, it would absolutely not have been my first choice. However, for me the future of education in Daventry is an extremely important matter and this multi-million-pound investment could and should be ground-breaking - and so I support it."
Jamie Clarke CEO, Tove Learning Trust, said: "The project to build the new school is owned by the DfE, and a suitable site for the school is determined by the DfE.
"Tove Learning Trust (TLT) is the provider the DfE has decided will run the school, and TLT is very pleased to be opening this new secondary school in Daventry. It is expected that this will open in 2024."
He added: "We look forward to working with the community in Daventry over the coming years."