Wetherby schools could be set for expansion

Wetherby Town Hall
Wetherby Town Hall

Schools in Wetherby look set to grow to cater for an expected rise in pupils, should the planning application for 325 houses on Spofforth Hill go ahead.

Coun Alan Lamb, chairman of Wetherby’s neighbourhood plan, confirmed that developers themselves would provide the extra financial support to schools should the planning application, which was given outline permission, go ahead.

A lack of school places has been an ongoing concern for campaigners and councillors objecting the plans, with schools such as Crossley Street, Deighton Gates, 
the Catholic schools and St James’ the most likely to be affected.

Speaking at Crossley Street Primary School during a visit from the Minister for Schools and Families, Nick Gibb, Coun Lamb said these schools would be provided with the necessary facilities to cope with the extra pupils.

He said: “It’s a city council issue and the Spofforth Hill issue is quite contentious in itself.

“There’s no doubt that unless people stop getting old and having children we will need more houses in the next few years.

“We want to make sure that if development does come to Wetherby, we get a proper amount of money from developers to make sure that we get all the facilities that we will need in our local schools.”

Coun Lamb also confirmed that the headmasters of these schools would be given the money they needed ‘to deliver the best possible starts for children in the area’.

Sandra Clynes, headteacher of Crossley Street Primary School and a member of the neighbourhood plan, said that the primary school had the ability to expand and accommodate additional pupils if extra families came to Wetherby.

She said: “We would be happy to accommodate any more local children.

“We can offer expert education and we have got the capacity to expand should that be required but it could be that they might want to build a new school.

“We are full at the moment and we can’t take any more children.

“We would need to have a whole raft of facilities and it would mean increasing staff and rescources.”

However, despite Coun Lamb’s assurances, resident and campaigner Jim Walton said there were still ‘a lot of unanswered questions’, including time frames and school transport.

He said: “I’m sure people will predict on assumption that the schools can be expanded.

“The question is how are we going to use the money to do what they are asking?

“How are the schools going to be expanded and in what time frame is this going to happen?

“How is this going to sit alongside children demanding school places?

“Also, if I was a parent coming in to this site there is no way I would want my children walking such a long way to school from there.

“The road near Crossley Street is dangerous enough without extra children and parents adding to the congestion.”