Council bosses call for new schools to cope with proposed housing growth around Norwich

Jonathan Smales, left, executive chairman of Beyond Green, and Neil Murphy, director of planning, at Beeston Hall Park which will be a country park in part of their planned 3,520 houses development in North Sprowston and Old Catton (NS&OC). Picture: Denise Bradley

Education officials believe a £39m secondary school for 1,400 pupils could be needed to cope with demand, if thousands of new houses are built north of Norwich.

And two primary schools costing between £6.5m and £8m would be needed if proposals for 3,520 properties on 207.4 hectares of farmland north of Sprowston and Old Catton are approved, according to Norfolk County Council documents.

London developer Beyond Green has earmarked two schools within its outline plans for the land, although the council could also request a payment in the region of £13.728m to contribute to a secondary school.

This new secondary school would be expected to serve land to the north-east of Norwich, which has been identified as a 'growth triangle' by Broadland District Council.

This area covers Sprowston, Rackheath, Old Catton, Thorpe St Andrew, Spixworth, Salhouse, Beeston St Andrew, Great and Little Plumstead and Postwick. Broadland hopes land will be used for 7,000 new houses by 2026, rising to 10,000 afterwards.

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Neil Murphy, of Beyond Green, said: 'We were given a steer quite early on in our design process that there would be a need for a new secondary school in the growth triangle, that it would be relatively late in the plan period and would probably preferred for a site in Rackheath.

'What they have asked us to do is safeguard a site on the land our landowners have, and that is what we will look to do.'

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The document outlining the future of this area, known as the joint core strategy (JCS), is subject to a public examination starting next month following a successful legal challenge in 2011 by Stop Norwich Urbanisation (Snub).

And concerns have been expressed over whether the facilities to serve thousands of residents to the north of Norwich, such as schools, medical facilities and roads, would be adequate to meet demand.

Beyond Green's plans are the biggest so far to be submitted to Broadland for development in the growth triangle. Rackheath is another area expected to be subject to major house-building.

Norfolk County Council has raised no objections to Beyond Green's project as it stands.

But the authority has submitted a list to Broadland of the requirements it expects to be satisfactorily dealt with by a legal agreement should the developer's application be approved.

The county council believes 3,520 houses would result in 8,448 new residents for the planned community to the north of Sprowston and Old Catton.

And the authority added this would likely require places for 296 nursery school children (aged between three and five), 894 primary school children (five to 11), 492 secondary school pupils (11 to 16) and 99 sixth form students (16 to 18).

To meet this need, the authority has said it would require two primary schools with 420 places each to be built, with both including nursery provision.

The council states it would expect land for the schools to be transferred to it for free and the primary schools are estimated to cost between £6.5m and £8m each.

The county council letter states: 'The precise location of a secondary school is still under consideration and will depend in part on the progress on other major proposals in the area (e.g. Rackheath), therefore at this stage the county council would want a safeguard for a 1,400-place secondary school with 280 sixth-form places.

'The cost of building a secondary school of this size serving the whole of the growth triangle would be in the region of £39m.'

Beyond Green's contribution for this size of development would be an estimated £13.728m.

Mr Murphy said councils in the area had yet to decide how Beyond Green would contribute to the payment of infrastructure improvements should it receive planning permission and further information was required.

He said: 'There will no doubt be a debate down the line about do you need £40m for a secondary school or more or less, but for the time being we are about to embark on negotiations and from our view it's simply helpful to know what the council are asking for.'

The county council added a new library would also be needed to serve the growth triangle, which could require £855,360 from Beyond Green.

A decision on Beyond Green's application, which would take up to 20 years to build, is not expected until 'early summer', according to Broadland District Council planning projects manager Ben Burgess.

The company is representing five landowners, including Norfolk County Council, for the project which has the working title North Sprowston and Old Catton.

What do you think about the housing plans for the north of Norwich. Write to Evening News letters at Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE, or email

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