Green light given for first new community primary school for North Solihull

(13th November 2006)

Solihull Council's Planning Committee has granted approval to build the first of a series of new primary schools for North Solihull, heralding a new era for education for the area.

The North Solihull Partnership will announce the start on site to build the state-of-the-art facility, which will replace Kingshurst Infant and Junior Schools, imminently. 420 four to 11 year olds and 60 nought to four year olds will be accommodated within the new 'extended school', which will provide after school activities, as well as extensive facilities for the whole community to enjoy, such as IT facilities for parents, and a Children's Centre offering a range of Primary Care services. 

The school, which is being delivered as part of a multi million budget to transform primary school education for North Solihull, is expected to open in autumn 2007. The creation of the new school has been made possible through the approved amalgamation of Kingshurst Infant and Junior Schools, which received no objections throughout Solihull Council's statutory community consultation process.

Paul Hanbury, Director of North Solihull Primary School Regeneration commented: "It's fantastic that only months since local people told us to prioritise the development of new primary schools, we will be starting on site with the first 'extended' state-of-the-art school building.

"When the homes, schools and community facilities were first constructed in North Solihullin the 1960's, the investment in the buildings was not sufficient to enable them to be sustainable for the long term. To change this, the 15 year, £1.8bn Regenerating North Solihull project is about working with the community to revitalise the area and ensure it is set for a sustainable and prosperous future.

"The considerable investment we are committing to new primary schools in terms of design and facilities will help to raise aspirations, academic achievement and improve the quality of family and community life. We are now embarking on a 12 month count down until we can open the doors on Kingshurst Primary School and demonstrate to local people how important first-rate education provision is to the future for North Solihull."

This key milestone for the Regenerating North Solihull initiative illustrates the North Solihull Partnership's commitment to deliver real change to the 40,000-strong community very early on in the 15 year project. The Partnership, a development consortium consisting of housebuilder Bellway Homes, investment-led regeneration company Inpartnership, Solihull Council and Registered Social Landlord Whitefriars Housing Group is responsible for the pioneering programme.

Kingshurst Primary School will be sited on part of the existing school playing fields, which will be replaced once the existing school buildings are closed in July 2007. The new school has been designed by Architects Design Partnership LLP (ADP), and Lend Lease Projects is project managing the design and construction process.

The two-form entry, two-storey building will be around 31,000sq ft (2,900m). Infants will be sited in the ground floor classrooms, which will have direct access to secure outdoor classrooms to provide maximum opportunities for educational play. Environmentally sound child-friendly materials will be used wherever possible to enhance the feeling of safety, remove the risk of injury, and crucially to create a welcoming environment. The new building will also feature innovations such as window treatments that create the right balance of light levels to avoid problematic glare.

The nursery will provide pre-school children (age three upwards) with free half-day sessions five days a week, and parents will also be able to 'top up' the time their child spends at nursery. Meanwhile the Children's Centre, which will be located within the new main school building, will enable many Primary Care services, such as speech therapy for children and midwifery to be accessed on site.

Alongside the new primary schools that are being delivered as part of the 15 year project, 12,500 existing homes are being improved, 8,000 new homes will be built, and five new village centres will be created at a cost of £100million, incorporating enhanced local healthcare provision and additional community facilities. North Solihull's area-changing programme has been brought about because its three wards of Chelmsley Wood, Smith's Wood and Kingshurst & Fordbridge fall within the UK's top 10 per cent of deprived neighbourhoods.

The approval of this important planning application will soon be followed by a third stage of Neighbourhood Planning consultation in Kingshurst and Babbs Mill. As part of the overall proposals for the area, the community is being consulted on what will be included within a new village centre, which is to be located next to the new school, enabling local people to enjoy first-rate access to state-of-the-art facilities.                                 

Paul Hanbury concluded: "In addition to the new Kingshurst Primary School, several more new extended primary schools will be created in the area, injecting considerable investment into the education of children aged from three to 11. In addition, the Building Schools for the Future project - which North Solihullis privileged to be in receipt of the first wave of funding for - will deliver inspirational secondary schools for all, marking an additional £84m of investment in learning.

"This intensive investment injection in new educational facilities in one concentrated area has not been seen in the UK since the 1960s. We have a remarkable opportunity in North Solihull to transform education and raise achievement, and we recognise that in doing so, this project will command not only national but international attention."


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