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Expansion could mean new school places

PUBLISHED: 16:08 25 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:48 01 July 2010

Hethersett High School and Science College

Hethersett High School and Science College

More than 300 extra secondary school places will need to be created to cope with the predicted expansion of villages on the outskirts of Norwich over the next 15 years, council bosses have said.

More than 300 extra secondary school places will need to be created to cope with the predicted expansion of villages on the outskirts of Norwich over the next 15 years, council bosses have said.

In the light of planned housing growth in Hethersett and Cringleford, officers at Norfolk County Council are trying to figure out how Hethersett High School will be able to cope with the increased number of youngsters living in the area.

The Joint Core Strategy - a blueprint for how the area in and around Norwich will accommodate the 30,000 plus new homes the government has said need to be built by 2026 - has identified Hethersett as suitable for 1,000 new homes and Cringleford for 1,200.

But with Hethersett High School having little scope to expand on its current site, council bosses want to use local knowledge of the school's governors to find a solution as to where the children living in those new homes will be schooled.

Council bosses will tomorrow meet with governors at a workshop which will attempt to find possible solutions, before they go out to public consultation.

Alison Cunningham, school development officer at County Hall, said: “What we want to do is harness local knowledge in order to work up some options.

“What the meeting is intended to do is to have a discussion about the planned housing growth to consider the implications of that on the provision of school places.

“We cannot build a new secondary school and the current one has limitations on how it can expand, so it is about looking at where there might be land available for new facilities.”

She said there was a possibility that, for example, education for pupils aged over 16 could take place in a site separate from the main school.

She said it was likely money from developers - known as section 106 payments - would be needed to pay for any new facilities.

The issue of extra homes in Hethersett has become a thorny issue in recent months, after developers acting on behalf of a group of landowners, submitted a scoping report to South Norfolk Council for up to 4,000 homes.

That sparked anger from families who believed they had won their fight to restrict the allocation to 1,000 - the figure which the Greater Norwich Development Partnership - made up of local councils - settled on for the Joint Core Strategy which is currently in the hands of a planning inspector.

Although the developers in Hethersett have said the plans are for 1,000 homes, opponents fear that could just be the tip of the iceberg and protested outside a public meeting earlier this month.

What do you think of the proposals for extra homes in Hethersett? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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