A NEW 420-place primary school is planned in Chester.
If approved, it would replace Huntington Primary School and be built on fields near Chester Road and the A55, near the Saighton Camp housing estate.
Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) is currently undertaking a ‘feasibility study’ to check if the proposals are affordable and practical.
Education chiefs and community leaders say a new school – or two 210-place schools – will be vital to address the soaring demand for school places in the area.
Birth rates have risen in Huntington while the Saighton Camp development, on former Army barracks, continues to spread with at least 800 new homes in the pipeline. Last month GMV Eight, the company behind Saighton Camp, announced it intended to scrap plans for a new school and a small industrial park at the site, proposing instead to build a further 120 homes on the land.
But a spokesman for CWaC said the developer would still be relied on to pay a chunk of the costs for the new school, as agreed under the terms of its planning permission.
He said: “Demand for primary school places in the Huntington area considerably exceeds the number that is currently available.
“The council has now commissioned a feasibility study to explore options for a new build 420 place school on a central site. Should the study show this is feasible and affordable then a statutory consultation exercise will be carried out and funding proposals, which include capital contributions from the Saighton Camp development, will be considered by the council.”
A survey conducted by CWaC showed local people would prefer a single large school rather than two smaller ones.
Chester MP Stephen Mosley supported the plans and praised the council for investing in schools.
He said: “These proposals will give children a brand new school and allow all the local children to attend the same school and so will be great news for Huntington.
CWaC now need to draw up detailed plans to ensure that the proposals are feasible.
“After years and years when we saw nothing but schools close in Chester, it is great to see CWaC and the Government are investing huge amounts building new schools in Chester.”
Residents have opposed plans for the expansion of Saighton Camp, claiming traffic congestion would be even worse as more homes are built – despite a pledge by GMV Eight to pump £4.6 million into improving the road network.
But Huntington area councillor Mark Williams said the proposed location of the new school would help ease traffic problems and the current site of Huntington Primary School, on Butterbache Road, could be used for accommodation for the elderly, which was sorely needed.
He added: “This could be a huge gain for the local area.”
l Four other schools in Chester – Blacon High, Dee Point, JH Godwin Primary and Highfield Primary, all in Blacon – are already set to be rebuilt under the Government’s Priority School Building Programme, as revealed earlier this month.
See full story in the Chester Leader