Warning over school places in face of huge Brentwood development

Planned development in Brentwood could leave children having to travel miles to primary school, Essex County Council (ECC) has been warned.

County Councillor David Kendall has concerns that the Ford development in Warley necessitates the need for an additional 143 primary places in the area.

The two nearest infant and primary schools to these developments are Warley Primary School and Holly Trees Primary School – both of which are approaching full capacity.

Once their capacity has been reached, other potential schools are Hogarth Primary School or one of the primary schools in Sawyers Hall Lane which would have to be reached by car.

The refurbishment of the old Ford HQ into 320 flats and the development of the old Ford car park site into 155 flats and houses will mean 475 new properties in Warley and potentially 1,200 to 1,500 new residents.

Cllr Kendall calculates that given ECC’s modelling, a development of 155 homes generates a demand for 46.5 primary school places. The development of the old Ford HQ into 320 flats would highlight the need for another 96 places . This combined totals to 143 primary school places.

Warley Primary School – which has been able to take 60 pupils each year since 2019 – has 105 pupils in the first two years. Holly Trees Primary School is also close to full capacity.

Cllr Kendall says this major influx of residents will put serious pressure on local infant and primary school places at Warley Primary School and Holly  Trees Primary School, as well as on local GP services at Beechwood Surgery in Clements Park.

He is also demanding answers from the Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group regarding the need for more health provision in Warley to support the major housing developments that are coming to the area.

Cllr Kendall said “Our local schools and GP surgery are already under a lot of pressure trying to meet the current needs of the community in Warley.

“These major new housing developments are going to make this situation much worse.

“Local councillors and residents have a right to know if any major health and education initiatives are in the pipeline to meet the increased demand on local services.

“I have serious concerns that nothing appears to be happening on these two important issues and I’m demanding answers and a clear plan of action so that residents know what is happening.”

Mrs Jenny Evans, head teacher of Warley Primary School, warned in 2019 that the potential development of the Warley Ford HQ building and nearby depot – which is just 600 metres away – is likely to place even more pressure on the school for places.

An Essex County Council spokesperson said: “ECC officers continuously liaise with planners to make sure every child in Essex has a school place available and have studied the impact of the development on the former Ford HQ in Warley Way.

“The ECC School Organisation and Place Planning team have concluded this development will have no detrimental impact on local schools.

“A development of 155 homes can be expected to generate demand for up to 46.5 primary school places (circa 6.6 per year group) and 31 secondary pupils (6.2 per year group).

“Warley Primary School was expanded for the start of the 2019/20 academic year by 210 places (30 places per year group) in anticipation of growing local demand, including growth from new housing developments.

“Brentwood County High also has significant unfilled capacity.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter