Saturday, 13 August 2022

New school is delayed by lack of council cash

A NEW primary school in Peppard will not be built this year after all.

A NEW primary school in Peppard will not be built this year after all.

School governor Ian Heriot says a lack of funding from Oxfordshire County Council has delayed the relocation of the school from Church Lane to a purpose-built complex next to the B481 to the north of Peppard Common.

He told the annual parish meeting at the war memorial hall that the project wasn’t dead and the school had bought the new plot and secured planning permission.

“All we need is some money,” said Mr Heriot. “We’ve got quite a bit of money in cash assets and promises which takes us one-third of the way towards a new school.

“We envisaged with that cash and assets it will bring us to a tipping point where the county council comes up with the additional money.

“It represents a bargain for them because they don’t usually get a plot of land and all the project development work done for nothing.

“Sadly, the council is suffering from the national situation of serious financial crisis.

“The reality is there will be no new school starting this year. That doesn’t mean the project is in the balance and we’re pushing it very hard at all levels.” Jim Smith, of Church Lane, said he was concerned that the existing Victorian school building would be demolished.

“This is the centre of the village and it should be preserved,” he said. “There is no legal situation which can prevent the demolition of the existing school. The way to approach it so there’s no doubt is to make it Grade II listed.”

Mr Heriot said part of the building was likely to be sold and redeveloped as a house but the Victorian part, which the school does not own, would be left untouched.

He said: “I would envisage that the infant block will be demolished and the temporary building removed and there would be some house building along Dray’s Lane to help finance the construction of the new school.

“The Victorian school will not be demolished because the owner of the school house would object.”

Peppard Parish Council chairman David Hammond said the school was within a conservation area and was subject to the strictest possible planning rules. He said: “There are some very high hurdles and you would find it very difficult to get approval to knock down a historic building and replace it with something out of keeping.”

Meanwhile, a disabled toilet has been added to the outside toilet block at the present school.

The surface of the playground has also been made smoother to facilitate a wheelchair used by a disabled pupil.

The new headteacher at the school was introduced to residents at the meeting.

Nick Steele will begin in September after the resignation of Chris Grieve due to illness in November.

Amanda Rogers has been acting headteacher since January.

Mr Steele, from Caversham, said he was “very proud” to be moving into headship for the first time in his career.

“I’m passionate about education and I aim to provide the children of Peppard with the best opportunities and experiences we can give them,” he said.

“I aim to build on the progress that has been made under Amanda and look forward to working with the community.”

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