Why does Bolton need new schools?
Bolton is seeing an increased demand for school places in some areas and the council has a statutory responsibility to provide sufficient school places to meet demand and to make sure every child has access to the best possible education.
Several new schools have been announced by the Department for Education (DfE) to help meet demand.
Without new schools the Council does not currently have enough funds to ensure there will be enough school places where they are needed in the future.
The Council would need to receive more funding from government or raise Council Tax to meet the cost of providing new school places.
Why is there increased demand for school places?
We use projections to work out when and where we will see extra demand on primary or secondary school places. Our projections help us plan for school places years in advance.
These projections are based on birth rates, new housing developments and more families moving into Bolton, as well as previous patterns and trends.
While overall we are seeing a decline in birth rates, in some areas the rates are rising.
There are also more families with children moving into these areas than there are leaving them, creating a net increase in demand for places.
Why is my area being considered for a new school?
Demand for school places varies across the borough. Our figures show us the areas where there is most pressure and it is important that we build schools near to where there is demand.
These figures need to be endorsed by the Department for Education before they will release funds for a new school.
Why can’t we expand existing schools?
The Council will look at expanding schools where possible, however funding for school expansions is very limited.
Many schools across Bolton have been expanded in recent years to meet rising demand for places, thus reducing the scope for further expansion.
Also, many of those can only be expanded further by taking up public space or being completely relocated and rebuilt.
Who is responsible for building the new schools?
The new schools announced for Bolton will be built by the Department for Education.
Bolton Council is, however, obligated to provide the sites that are needed for new schools.
How are sites chosen sites for new schools?
The council works with the Department of Education to explore potential sites for new schools. Many sites within the borough are unsuitable for a variety of reasons:
- Not close enough to areas with the most demand
- Not enough space for a school
- Land otherwise unsuitable for development
The council aims to use existing council-owned land, where possible, to reduce the cost of providing a site.
If no council sites are available, it may be necessary to buy a site and make this available to the Department of Education, without any ability to recover the cost of buying the site.
Choosing a potential site is the very first stages of the process and agreeing to dispose of a site to the DfE is subject to several important conditions, the main ones being a need to obtain planning permission.
The council will also want to make sure that the DfE guarantee funding and minimise disruption to nearby residents.
What happens once a site is proposed?
Once a site is proposed, a decision is made to transfer an area of land to the DfE. The DfE then start the process of detailed surveys and design of the proposed school. The DfE will then submit a planning application with public consultation prior to submission and during the consideration of the application.
How long does the whole process take?
Finding an appropriate site, planning, and building a new school is very complex and time consuming. The whole process takes 3-4yrs.
Once a site is proposed it will still be some time before detailed plans are developed.
How do I have my say? I’m concerned about extra traffic and the environmental impact.
As with any development, any new school will be subject to a full planning application.
Once the proposed school has been designed, the DfE will submit the planning application.
As part of planning process, experts will carry out an environmental impact assessment and address any issues with road access or congestion.
Local residents will be consulted prior to the planning submission and throughout the planning process and will have numerous opportunities to raise concerns.
Will we lose access to local public space?
The council works closely with the DfE and school leaders to make sure any new school is embedded in the community.
That means keeping all disruption to a minimum, protection of existing amenities, compensation provision for those areas where a school is built and giving local residents access to school facilities at evenings and weekends.
A new school is proposed on Haslam Park – there is only limited greenspace in the area?
As part of the proposed development, a new masterplan is being drawn up for the area which would see improvements to access and public space.
The development would be offset by tree planting and a greatly expanded nature reserve on land next to the park, which would attract wildlife and increase the area’s biodiversity.
Existing paths would also be improved, widened, and joined up with other nearby routes as part of a broader scheme to boost cycling and walking across the borough.
If you have any further questions about the proposals, please email firstname.lastname@example.org using the subject “new schools”.