Shortfall in cash for school spaces from developer behind 750 new homes at former Whittingham Hospital site

A housing developer behind 750 homes is offering millions of pounds less than it was asked for to provide for new school places in rural Preston.

Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 4:03 pm
The former Whittingham Hospital before it was demolished

But city councillors look set to approve the plans for up to 750 houses at the 48.7ha site where Whittingham Hospital once stood.

Proposals for the development from Homes England include reserving 1.5ha of land for a primary school and redeveloping the Whittingham and Goosnargh Sports and Social Club.

The land earmarked for the school would be capable of accommodating a primary school building, a car park, playing field and multi-use games area.

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But the Local Education Authority (LEA) at Lancashire County Council has lodged an objection to the plans as part of a consultation process.

The report coming to the city’s planning committee at Town Hall on Thursday, November 7 states: “Based on all 750 dwellings having four bedrooms a claim is sought for 285 primary school places and 11 secondary school places, which amounts to £4.8m.

"The financial offer from the application towards the provision of school places would not mitigate the development’s impact on local school places.”

But the report by officers also says that following “extensive negotiations” with Homes England the public body will only be able to support £2.1m towards the provision of school places.

It means a shortfall of contributions towards school places of £2.7m.

Recommending the plans for approval the report from officers points out that a mix of bedroom numbers means the school places will be less than the LEA estimates.

It states: “While the funding offer for school places is lower than the County Education claim, the claim is based on the assumption that all of the proposed dwellings would have four bedrooms.

"The proposed masterplan indicates that a mix of one, two, three, four and five bedroom dwellings would be provided across the site, therefore the claim for school places from County Education will reduce from £4.8 million once reserved matters applications are approved.

"Furthermore should land sales provide a greater return than expected for the applicant, the Section 106 Obligation requires the land owner to pay additional funds to the LEA, which could reach a maximum of £4.2 million."