FAMILIES in Didcot are set to benefit from a £13 million new primary school.

The school – referred to in planning documents as North East Didcot Primary School – will be the first to be built as part of a new development close to Ladygrove called Willington Down.

It will take pupils from a nearby 1,880-home development.

The school is set to admit 510 pupils, from reception age to Year 6 when it opens in time for the start of the 2023-2024 academic year.

It also includes 90 nursery places for two and three-years-old.

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Herald Series: View towards Nursery Classrooms from the WestView towards Nursery Classrooms from the West

The project includes a two storey ‘T’ shaped building in the middle of the site; a car park with 34 spaces which includes two electric vehicle charging spaces; external hard and soft play areas around the building; and a grassed sports pitch and netball court.

Future pupils will also benefit from a large open grass area where they will be able to play amongst the trees and wildflowers that will be planted in the site.

The school will be designed and constructed by Oxfordshire District Council, at an estimated cost of £12.9m. It will be fully funded by house developer Croudace Homes through contributions secured by Section 106 ‘planning gain’ agreements.

The developer is building homes at the nearby Willowbrook Park site.

The new school is set to address ongoing housing growth in the area.

Didcot has already seen significant housebuilding, with 6,300 houses expected to have gone up in the 20 years up to 2027, with further growth planned immediately to the west of Didcot in the Vale of White Horse Local Plan.

In September last year, plans for the school to serve this housing growth where set to progress after a delegated decision was made by Oxfordshire County Council’s deputy leader, Liz Brighouse – who is also the county council’s cabinet member for children, education and young people’s services.

Herald Series: View towards main building from the SouthView towards main building from the South

Previously, in June 2017, an outline planning application for the redevelopment of this land was approved by South Oxfordshire District Council.

The county council will own the school site, which is expected to be made available to the academy on a 125-year lease. However, it will not run the new school, with an academy trust expected to take control. The Education Act 2011 requires that all new schools are expected to be academies or free schools, meaning they are not run by local authorities, except in exceptional circumstances.

There are currently 13 primary schools already in Didcot and the immediate area.

The application is not subject to public consultation, however it may be necessary for the council to consult professional bodies.

The target decision date for the approval or refusal of this planning application is set for next Wednesday.


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