Short-term arrangements needed to ensure ‘greenness’ of new Cheltenham school
Gloucestershire County Council is working with Balcarras Academy Trust to secure permission to temporarily accommodate the new Cheltenham school on the Balcarras site.
The new Cheltenham secondary school is still expected to open in September 2021 operating, initially, from a new building on the Balcarras site, subject to planning permission being granted. The change in approach is to allow for further ecological safeguarding work, and to make sure plans comply with Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) regulations, before the submitted planning application for the permanent school is considered.
In May 2019, the county council declared a ‘climate emergency’. As a county, they have pledged to reduce Gloucestershire’s carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2050. In support of this, further work has been done to the plans to ensure the school will be carbon neutral, to help protect the environment for future generations.
It is expected that some work to restore or enhance natural habitats will be completed on site and some off-setting nearby will also be needed, for example, by restoring woodlands or hedgerows.
Cllr Patrick Molyneux, cabinet member responsible for education, said: “Delivering a new school for the pupils of Cheltenham is our priority but we also need to make sure we’re following regulations that look after the environment. While we’re naturally disappointed that the first pupils won’t move into their new school until 2022, we want to reassure parents we’re working hard to find the best possible interim solution. We will keep people up to date as things progress.”
The county council and Balcarras, the academy trust that will run the new school, are investigating the temporary options for September 2021 before the school opens at the site in Kidnappers Lane from 2022. A decision will be made well in advance of the October 2020 deadline for choosing a secondary school.
Dominic Burke, Head of Balcarras Trust, said: “We are still fully committed to Cheltenham’s new school and will work closely with Gloucestershire County Council to find a solution which means that the school will be able to open on a temporary site in September 2021, before transferring to the superb new accommodation which will open in 2022.
“I want to make it clear that the new school will open as a separate entity to Balcarras with its own headteacher, pastoral system, admissions arrangements and separate modern accommodation. We intend to share some of Balcarras’ specialist facilities but will do so in a way which does not affect the educational opportunities for Balcarras students.”