Cabinet Members have today (Wednesday, 18 March) approved a report recommending that a site at Keresforth Close is allocated and used for the provision of a free school.
They also approved the site to be transferred to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (DHCLG) on receipt of the necessary planning consents being achieved.
Barnsley Council has a statutory duty to provide school places and there is currently a projected shortage of secondary school places from September 2021.
The report detailed how following receipt of Department for Education (DfE) free school funding, Trinity MAT and LocatED have concluded that following a comprehensive site search the Keresforth Close site is the only site in the central planning area that meets with the requirements for a new secondary school and the demand. The site is in the freehold ownership of the public sector and can be delivered relatively quickly.
Exchange of contracts must take before the 31 March this year as this date is a key milestone which will trigger procurement of the new school and detailed design and pre-application planning discussions.
Members were informed that a September 2021 opening is not achievable, so options for temporary accommodation are currently being considered. A case is being prepared in respect of a temporary solution and will need to be submitted to the DfE by Trinity MAT.
DfE will not consider the temporary accommodation requirement until a permanent site has been secured and is under contract.
Council officers will work with Trinity MAT in relation to the provision of new publicly accessible open space on the site, but until the DfE carry out detailed site and ground investigations, it is too early to determine the layout of the site and how the school facilities will sit within the surrounding environment.
Proposals for the site will, however, have to include strong greenspace credentials to satisfy both Planning and Sport England requirements.
The proposals will provide for a new school at no cost to the council, as all costs of development will be funded by the DfE, while ensuring that the school is built to the highest quality.