Saturday, 15 August 2020

School will stay and expand for time being

GORING Primary School has committed to improving its existing premises instead of moving to a new home.

Governors of the Church of England primary, off Wallingford Road, whose Sixties buildings are in poor condition and need replacing, have confirmed the latter is no longer considered realistic though it could be revisited.

An improvement and expansion of the existing school was already on the table when a new board was appointed last year, at which point the new governors agreed to reconsider the best way forward.

Now they say they will be prioritising efforts to raise enough money for improvements on a smaller scale than those previously being discussed.

At a virtual full meeting of the authority last week, governor Bernadette Sachse told councillors: “Previous aspirations for a new school on a new site cannot categorically be ruled out forever.

“However, that is a very long-term aspiration and will only ever be reconsidered in the future if there was extreme housing development in the village which put significant pressure on our infrastructure.

“The availability of funding and its sources were the main driver behind our decision because a new school would have been significantly more costly and challenging to undertake.

“This is an unsuitable time to be undertaking ambitious fundraising activity so we’re concentrating on something smaller.”

The school was originally hoping to move to a 3.8-hectare field off Springhill Road, a five-minute walk to the north, after developer McAdden Homes offered to build a larger school for free.

But in return the company wanted to build housing on another site not earmarked for development in the village’s neighbourhood plan so the deal fell through.

The school was then considering expansion onto the western half of Bourdillon Field, which lies immediately to the east.

This outdoor section would have been fenced off solely for sports and outdoor activities while buildings on the existing footprint, including several temporary cabins, were to be refurbished or replaced.

This was agreed in principle by Goring Parish Council, which would have leased out the Bourdillon land at a nominal “peppercorn” rent, while the rest of the field would have stayed open to the public.

The work, possibly costing up to £3 million would have been carried out in phases over a period of up to a decade with funding from grants and donations.

The school is yet to confirm specifics of its current proposal or a fundraising budget but says it will be smaller.

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