Published: July 19, 2012
Overcrowding fears hit £4.6m Highbridge school before it even opens

Fresh concerns have been raised this week regarding pupil overcrowding at a new £4.6m school being built in Highbridge which is set to open this autumn.

The new 420-pupil Churchfield School in Highbridge is scheduled to open in September following a year-long construction project.

However, Somerset County Council has already applied for planning permission for a two-classroom 'temporary unit' to be sited besides the new building to cater for an overspill of pupils.

The Town Council's Planning Applications Committee has expressed its concern about the plans.

"Members were disappointed to see an application to maintain a temporary modular unit on the site of a school that is being rebuilt and not yet completed," said a council spokeswoman.

Cllr Helen Groves told "There has been no future proofing for population expansion. It's very sad that two classes will have to be based in a temporary unit because the new school is simply not big enough."

"The Brue Farm housing development may provide a new school elsewhere in Highbridge in the future, but that is only an outline plan and may not meet the overall growth in numbers."

Somerset County Council spokesman Elizabeth Kulh responded: "Due to a growth of housing in the area, we anticipate an increase in demand for schoolplaces in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Therefore, we’re proposing to retain a classroom to help us manage school places in the Highbridge area over that period."

Meanwhile, the new school's steel exterior is in place and final work is currently underway ahead of the scheduled completion this summer in time for the opening at the start of the autumn term.

Highbridge County Councillor John Woodman told "This new state-of-the-art, purpose-built primary school will be a fantastic asset to our community

Pictured: Top, how the new school looks this week and, above, how the school will look when completed, and the earlier topping out ceremony


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