Saffron Walden school expansion plan gets green light

Cllr Ray Gooding

Cllr Ray Gooding - Credit: Archant

More than £700,000 is to be spent on expanding a Saffron Walden school – a move which will help alleviate pressure as demand for primary places continues to bite.

Essex County Council (ECC) has approved plans for RA Butler Academy, on South Road, which include converting the current ICT suite and library in the junior school into classrooms and transforming an ‘under-sized’ Year 6 classroom into the new library.

The car park will also be expanded to make room for another 12 cars, bringing the total up to 47.

Councillor Ray Gooding, cabinet member for education and lifelong learning, said: “This is really great news for both the school and town but most importantly for the parents and the children.

“We have been predicting some pressure on primary school places over the coming years. Having the expansion of RA Butler is a real good first step in terms of dealing with that.”

Along with the work on the junior school, a new classroom extension is also required for the infants with extra storage space and toilet facilities.

Cllr Gooding added: “There is some work that needs to be done and that is always the difficult part for the school to take on board. But I think the bit of inconvenience that is going to happen will be worth the extra facilities.”

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The ICT conversion, which will cost around £75,000, is expected to be complete by September. A further £296,000 has been earmarked for construction and associated project fees during 2015/16, with an additional £390,000 during 2016/17.

As the school grows in size, with the infant school expected to increase from 225 to 270 and the junior to go from 300 to 260, additional teaching staff will be required.

Leader of Uttlesford District Council (UDC) Councillor Howard Rolfe welcomed the plans.

He said: “This is excellent news for Saffron Walden. ECC had indicated that it will be increasing capacity and it has now agreed the necessary finance to do this.

“ECC has a statutory duty to educate all its children and that means looking at capacity very carefully. People can therefore rest assured that there will be adequate capacity in the system.”