County opts not to commit to new South Woodham primary school in face of road concerns

Essex County Council has declined to commit to building a new primary school in South Woodham Ferrers – despite being in line to receive “substantial sums” from a major development in the town.

It comes after the council signed a major land deal with developers Countryside that would see the construction of up to 1,200 new homes on the basis of a 50/50 share of the profits on the number of homes built on council-owned land known as Hamberts Farm.

That development in the north of South Woodham Ferrers is set to see the B1012 as the primary route from the Dengie to all feeder and trunk routes into an urban street with six uncontrolled pedestrian crossings and an additional roundabout.

In that context – and given within the masterplan a primary school has been listed as potential the council has been asked to categorically committing to providing a school.

Yesterday Essex county councillor Bob Massey told the council’s cabinet: “With the masterplan the provision of a primary has been listed as potential and Essex County Council is yet to commit to providing a school.

“Finger in the air estimates have suggested that not providing a primary school within the development will generate around 300 traffic movements a day across the traffic flow of the B1012 – already one the  busiest B roads in the county.

“I would therefore request that this council reviews the wider implications in providing such a school beyond simple student numbers and commit to the school’s provision.”

Cabinet member Lesley Wagland said: “I can assure Cllr Massey the provision of a primary is anticipated.

“The question of the need for school places has to be justified in the planning process.

Therefore there will need to be evidence-based proposals put forward and the need for the school places will be assessed against demand arising from the new development and of course the demand impact of the houses that are going to be proposed within each planning application.”

She added: “Disposal on the terms proposed will provide Essex County Council with a substantial pack of receipts from 2023 onwards.

“Co-development will share the risks and benefits of development and share infrastructure across those landholdings that includes primary school, healthcare and recreation with road improvement cycle and footpaths.”

The issues of the road remain equally live – especially how the development would significantly slow down traffic on the Burnham Road.

Cllr Wagland added the traffic assessment was in the master plan approved by Chelmsford city council in March 2021 – although the exact details and numbers have not been published.

She said: “The site itself will be developed in phases so there will be several detailed planning applications each of which are going to cover the detail of the measures required to mitigate the transport impact at a local level so again that will be the subject of due process through planning.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter