£46m needed to cover school building shortfall
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Almost £50m will have to be borrowed by Norfolk County Council to deliver the schools needed around Norwich.
Of the six new school and expansion projects identified as a priority to meet increased demand, just two are fully funded by the county council.
On Thursday, the Greater Norwich Growth Board (GNGB), made up of members of Norwich City, Broadland District, South Norfolk and Norfolk County councils, was asked to use City Deal Borrowing - a loan from the government at a reduced rate - to cover the school building black hole.
A report to GNGB said the city deal could provide "borrowing capacity" to cover the "considerable shortfall" needed to fund new school infrastructure in the GNGB area.
GNGB is already contributing £2m per year to the county council's children's services, with the money currently going towards capital, named projects - for example, a school building.
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The money has been coming from a community infrastructure levy (CIL) - a charge on new developments in an area.
Norfolk County Council leader, Andrew Proctor, suggested that the £2m they give towards named projects could instead go to the county council to service a loan.
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"Greater Norwich has a large amount of housing to be built requiring large amounts of education provision," he said.
"The £2m could be used to service the borrowing, it's all long term borrowing, it's needed to build a capital asset."
South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller was supportive of the proposal but raised concerns over who would be liable.
Mr Fuller pointed out that when the GNGB was set up in 2012 he pushed for more of the city borrowing cash to go towards education.
"The problem is we haven't got any more money," he said.
"I seem to remember in 2012 we thought we might, over the years, get £400m from CIL and as I understand it we got £70m and half of that has been spent on the NDR."
He added: "It's a shame because the money that could have been spent on schools has been spent on roads."
Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council, was also not against the plan, but said the government needs to "put their hands in their pockets."
The GNGB agreed to use the city deal borrowing to help support the education projects and also to research the CIL money being used towards loan servicing.
What schools are planned across greater Norwich?
- New Blofield Primary (relocate and expansion), £6.5m unfunded
- Cringleford Primary (new school), £6m unfunded
- Poringland Primary (new school), £8m unfunded
- North Norwich High School (new school), £26m unfunded
- Costessey Ormiston Victory Academy (expansion), fully funded
- Sprowston Community Academy (expansion), fully funded
A report to the meeting also identified the areas in Norwich, South Norfolk and Broadland where future growth is likely to happen and extra school provision needed...
More than 12,000 new homes are set to be built across the area.
Growth is expected at Beeston Park - outline planning for 3,500 homes and delivering two new primary schools.
In Sprowston, an additional 1700 new homes have been suggested, and children’s services have discussed securing land for a new secondary school.
Rackheath has 3,000-4,000 homes allocated but "things have gone quiet," a report to the GNGB said.
Salhouse Road is expected to bring around 1,200 homes with land for a two-hectare primary school secured.
Up to 1,800 new homes across the town with planning permission still to be built.
A large development in Silfield has a site for a new primary school, the land for a further 500 homes had not been sold so access and service to the site had been "challenging".
The Greater Norwich Local Plan has allocated 1000 new homes for Wymondham as a contingency but not a preferred area.
The pressure on primary places has been keenly felt, with few spare spots in September 2020.
Two sites are set to deliver 1,300 new homes with development already underway.
In the 2019 reception admissions round the local primary school was over-subscribed, and in 2020 families were offered spaces elsewhere.
NCC said those were "bulge years" and numbers this year are likely to be lower.
Children's services said they want a new primary school northwest of the village as soon as possible.
Plans for 1,200 plus homes with a new housing development in the north "progressing quickly".
The developer may seek an additional 300 homes and Children's services may look to secure land for a new primary school.
Currently, there are "plenty of spare places" for new families at the two schools.
Around 1,800- 2,400 new homes.
Plans for a Long Stratton bypass have been approved and are expected to enable house building to start.
Children’s Services have calculated that up to 400 new homes can be built before pressure for places.
Blofield and Brundall
Up to 500 new homes are planned.
Both Blofield and Brundall schools are over-subscribed but places are found elsewhere. With the new housing, more places will be required.
In the region of 250 homes are still to be built out.
The 2020 admissions were expected to be a challenge but it was made easier by parents selecting other local schools.
Although Poringland Primary school is full, as is Trowse and Alpington there are a few spare places in both Stoke Holy Cross and Brooke Primary Schools.
There is an allocation for up to 1,500 new homes.
While the number of infant school places is adequate, the three infant schools feed into just two junior schools.
If full numbers were coming through from the infant schools there would be insufficient places.
Up to 4,000 homes are expected to be built.
NCC said: "Housing growth of this size will clearly impact on local school provision but to what extent will depend greatly on the type and size of homes proposed."
The Norwich East plans are still in the early stages, with a master plan for the area only set out this year.
Children's services have been informally consulted on what provision will be required.