05:17PM, Thursday 18 March 2021
Concerns have been raised over the potential traffic impacts if primary schools in Maidenhead are allowed to expand.
The council has launched a consultation on proposals to potentially expand four Maidenhead primary schools: St Luke’s Primary, St Mary’s Catholic School, Larchfield Primary and Lowbrook Academy, potentially doubling some of their intakes.
The council wants to increase the amount of school places as it projects the number of children will soon overtake the number of available spaces in parts of the town.
The proposals have been met with criticism, though, with some people concerned that an increase in pupils will lead to even more traffic chaos at pick up and drop off time.
Agnieszka Umoetuk said: “They want to double up the class sizes per year but what about introducing any drop-off/pick up facility?”
Stephanie Fitt added: “Maybe the council should get the infrastructure in place before considering more housing and services.
“And what about the NHS and pressures on surgeries and medical services in the area as well as the schools? No thought seems to have been given to them either.”
The schools, meanwhile, have come out in favour of the plans.
Speaking to the Advertiser, Lowbrook Academy executive principal Dave Rooney said: “The biggest benefit will be to the children.
“We are a popular school and every year we have children in our community who don’t get offered a place.”
Another proposal put forward by the council is to open a new school at the old Forest Bridge School site, which was vacated when it moved to Braywick Park. The new school would take in 30 pupils a year.
The proposals received a mixed response from the leader of the opposition, Cllr Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green), who agreed that more school places were needed, but warned that expansions must take residents into consideration.
He said: “We have got a growing population and schools need to be expanded, but I would like to make sure as many residents know about it and respond to the consultation as possible.
“The impacts won’t just be on the children, but also for the residents around the schools. I know that in some cases getting the transport issues sorted out around the school is part of the conversation.
“It has got to be the residents, the schools and the highways staff working together, rather than the council just trying to impose solutions.”
Cllr Stuart Carroll (Con, Boyn Hill), cabinet member for children's services, said: “As a cabinet we confirmed in December that in order to ensure that there are sufficient primary school places for residents, development work would need to start immediately.
“The consultation outlines the options open to the Royal Borough following extensive master planning of all school sites.
“Each option has its strengths and challenges as set out in the feasibility studies and this consultation is designed to identify those where there is strong support to find working solutions for the school places.
“At a later stage, detailed designs will be undertaken so any scheme meets the wide range of conditions for success and that includes highways.
“It is vital we plan ahead to ensure every single child has a school place and hence why we have taken this proactive approach and are consulting early to get all views”.
The council's consultation closes at midday on Friday, April 23. To view the consultation click here.