A packed meeting called by Adur Communities Together in Shoreham last month unearthed many pressures on our local infrastructure as a result of relentless local development.
One issue discussed was education and the shortage of both primary and secondary school spaces (most urgent) in Adur. The shortages are caused by
- the area’s growing population
- West Sussex County Council (WSCC) having responsibility for school places but the ability to expand local authority schools only
- the fact that new schools must be academies. Academies are only motivated to build a school if it will be full from day one but, by the time that happens, it’s too late to build the new school and pupils have no school to go to!
Worthing schools have a responsibility to help with any shortages of Adur school places. A recent freedom of information request showed that last year Adur and Worthing schools had 27 fewer year 7 places than were needed. Next year we will be 183 places short.
The pressure on places may grow even more when the first 60 houses in the New Monks Park development in Lancing are occupied.
Thankfully, Sir Robert Woodard Academy in Lancing has promised to expand with an additional two-form entry, but there has been talk of temporary classrooms and therefore it’s not a sustainable long-term option to keep expanding. Shoreham Academy has ruled out expanding for health and safety capacity reasons.
One infrastructure issue always leads to another. If we are sending our children further afield to schools, that means more cost for parents in terms of rail, bus travel, increased air pollution of transporting those children by car or typically, diesel-fuelled school buses and where are the safe and well-designed cycle lanes to support children who wish to cycle?
Sadly, there is currently a huge disconnect between our Adur District Council planning committee (responsible for passing housing applications), WSCC (responsible for school places) and the Department for Education (lobbying academies to build).
Gone are the days of children walking to their local school. It’s time that school place modelling was improved by WSCC, a strategic plan drawn up and, personally, I believe schools should be brought back under local authority control, giving our community the freedom to expand school places as we see fit, thus creating a clearer link with housing and school place provision.
- We believe new developments should support local needs, in particular the need for social housing, that they should be sustainable in their design, materials and energy use, and that developers should provide support for local infrastructure.
- Adur Communities Together is an alliance of Shoreham community groups which has come together to raise issues around new housing developments proposed for Adur and the pressure this would on the area’s infrastructure. Its first public meeting was attended by 167 people with a further 500 watching on Youtube.
Cllr Cat Arnold 3/11/21
Picture from NeONBRAND on Unsplash.