As a result of a large number of concerns about the provision of infrastructure to support housing development, Future Wolverton asked Milton Keynes Council a number of questions about the provision of school places in the Wolverton area.
The following answers were received:
Can you explain the process that the Local Authority goes through to plan for increases in the school population?
We use complex, but well tested formulae involving birth rates, parental trends and housing completions and projections, amongst other data, to project the need for future school places both across the borough, and by local secondary school liaison group. Each September the figures are published in our Setting and School Place Planning Framework. (A copy of this document can be viewed here – page 67 regarding the Radcliffe Liasion Group is of particular relevance to our area)
The owner of the Railway Works site is about to start consultation on a master-plan for the site which includes new housing. They expect to be submitting a planning application to Milton Keynes Council for this site early in 2015. At what point in the process of a new development being considered does the issue of the infrastructure needed to support the development – such as school places – get considered?
This is discussed at the point that any development framework is drawn up, and if evidence can be provided that a site is required it is at this point that this is identified and secured. If not, then the Council will be consulted at the point that the planning application goes in, when we will review pupils projections and evidence strongly and robustly (wherever possible) that s106 monies are required. We are often asked to reduce our requirements based on issues of “viability”, but this is not something that we as officers responsible for the sufficiency of school places would support.
Consultation on the expansion of Bushfield is bound to raise questions about the expansion of Radcliffe and other local schools. Is it appropriate for these wider issues to be considered?
Yes, these are already being considered. We expect options for this next phase to be consulted upon with stakeholders next year once options are clearer and we know whether Bushfield School will indeed expand. There is, of course, a new Principal at The Radcliffe, so we need to explore afresh the ambition of the school to grow with governors and the school leadership team.
Thanks to Marie Denny, Head of Delivery, Setting and School Sufficiency and Access, Milton Keynes Council.