Questions remain over new Brighouse secondary school site as housing hearings continue

A site for a new secondary school in Brighouse, which would be needed if thousands of new homes were to be built if Calderdale’s Local Plan is approved, is still to be chosen.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 11:49 am
Updated Friday, 18th June 2021, 11:50 am

But as yet no site has been selected, Calderdale Council officers told the latest stage of hearings into the plan.

With two Garden Suburb sites at Woodhouse and Thornhills in Brighouse likely to provide space for thousands of homes, new schools will be needed.

However, opponents of the draft plan in its current form are worried about a lack of detail and proposals they said were constantly changing.

A new secondary school will be built of Calderdale's Local plan is approved
A new secondary school will be built of Calderdale's Local plan is approved

The council’s Planning lead officer, Richard Seaman, said an application to develop a free school made by Calderdale-based Trinity Multi Academy Trust had been successful, and the next step would be identifying a site.

This task and delivery of the project was being undertaken by an organisation called Located, a company linked to the Department of Education – when a free school funding application is successful they are brought in to deal with all land and delivery issues, he said.

“They are currently liaising with both the Multi Academy Trust and the council.

“As of today a preferred site has not yet been identified but we are talking with Located on a regular basis,” he said.

But resident Jason Carlton said it had been an ever-changing situation beginning with proposals for a dedicated secondary school at Thornhills, then increasing capacity at both Brighouse High School and Rastrick High Schools and now this – another example of evidence supporting the plan changing.

“It’s like nailing jelly to a wall,” he said, adding people still did not know where this would be, with resulting implications for air quality and other issues which would need modelling, relying on a funding stream that was unproven.

“We are now dependent on this bid being successful. To me this is a fundamental underpinning of what this plan is trying to do,” he said.

Julie Bullen, of Woodhouse Residents Association, agreed and said hurdles had still to be overcome by the free school.

She asked what would happen if the free school process failed.

Mr Seaman said it needed to be clarified Trinity was promoting the free school and it was not promoted through the Local Plan but it would have an impact on the Local Plan.

Senior commissioning officer for the council, Richard Morse, said expansion of existing schools was still an option, and the council had multiple options, although the trust’s free school was best from a financial point of view.

Planning Inspector Katie Child oversaw the hearings this week and will ultimately decide whether the plan, which would shape where new homes and businesses can be built into the 2030s, is sound.