Question to Council regarding Sudbourne and Orchard primary schools

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Orchard Primary School

Ahead of the next meeting of Lambeth Council next week, written questions to the Cabinet have been published. Brixton Hill councillor Adrian Garden asked for an update regarding the long hoped for expansion of Sudbourne Primary School, and the planned rebuild of Orchard Primary School on Christchurch Road.

Here is the cabinet member’s reply.

14. Councillor Adrian Garden

To: Cabinet Member for Children and Schools – Councillor Jane Edbrooke

Sudbourne Primary /Orchard Primary

Brixton Hill ward is blessed with many successful and popular schools. Can the Cabinet Member please update us on progress to bring about the expansion of Sudbourne Primary School and the new buildings and refurbishment at Orchard Primary School?

Answer: The expansion of Sudbourne Primary School on to the proposed site between Acre Lane and Sudbourne Road involved complex arrangements to acquire the site (as part of a land swap) involving several different parties. This complex transaction has been ongoing for a number of years, and the Council is of the opinion that the prolonged nature of these negotiations is not helpful to anyone, least of all the school who require certainty to effect their expansion plans from a one and a half form entry school to a two/three form entry, to cater for the increased demand for school spaces at this Ofsted outstanding school. Despite the Council working hard to reach an agreement it is now clear that this is not possible and the Council wrote to the land owners in December 2016 to express our disappointment.

The Council is now working closely with the school on alternative options for expansion. This is likely to involve either redevelopment on their existing site or making use of the Mandrel Road site which originally would have been “swapped” for the site on Acre Lane/Sudbourne Road. It is hoped to resolve a clear way forward in the next two months so that work can begin as soon as possible on expanding this outstanding school. We understand this uncertainty and delay has been frustrating to the school and parents.

The work on the Orchard Primary School is part of the Government’s Priority Schools Building Programme which is funded and managed directly on behalf of the Department for Education by the Education Funding Agency. The Council therefore has no direct role in it but is assisting the EFA where it can. It will also have a role as Local Planning Authority once a Planning Application has been submitted.

In response to a request for advice on the progress and likely programme the EFA has advised as follows:

“The Orchard School has been included in the £4.4 billion Priority School Building Programme (PSBP) which is transforming run-down buildings into state-of-the-art facilities, targeting funding at those school buildings in the worst condition.

“The current plan is for planning to be submitted later this spring, with work due to start on site later this year and the school due to open at the beginning of 2019. We have faced some delays up to this point concerning emergency access to the school, but they are almost resolved, allowing us to proceed with the programme of works. We will continue to keep the school and the local authority up to date as work on the school progresses.”

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