Residents hear more on school proposals for golf club site

Shay Bottomley

shayb@baylismedia.co.uk
Residents invited to get involved in specific plans for Maidenhead Golf Course

Mixed-gender primary and secondary schools could be coming to the Maidenhead Golf Course site – although the latter is unexpected ‘for the foreseeable future’.

The news comes after the Royal Borough revealed further details on its future at a virtual event on Wednesday evening.

At the first consultation event for the South West Maidenhead development area – which includes the golf course, Braywick Park and an industrial area south of the A308(M) known as ‘The Triangle’ - officers gave a glimpse into the future of the site.

The session was the first of three which are set to take place over the coming weeks, and seek to answer questions and gain feedback on what stakeholders would like to see in a site-specific supplementary planning document (SPD) for the area.

2,600 homes are expected on site AL13 – more commonly known as the golf course and land south of Harvest Hill Road – and is one of around 30 requirements for the area within the Borough Local Plan.

AL13 will be split into ‘two distinct neighbourhoods’, although this divide will not be along Harvest Hill Road; instead, the golf course will be divided into a ‘town-centre-facing northern neighbourhood’, as well as a neighbourhood encompassing the southern part of the golf course and land south of Harvest Hill Road.

Furthermore, the 90-hectare site will also feature two mixed-gender schools, one for primary and another for secondary schoolchildren.

Ben Wright, school places and capital team leader for the Royal Borough, said AL13 was ‘the only site available’ within the Borough Local Plan.

“Essentially we’d need somewhere like six to seven hectares for a proper-sized secondary school,” he said.

“Therefore, this was the only option for putting a new secondary school in the town.

“I accept that obviously this school would be relatively close to Desborough College; all I would say is that obviously Desborough is a boy’s school [whereas] we would be planning a co-ed (mixed-gender) school.”

Mr Wright added he was ‘aware there had been some ideas’ raised about the prospect of moving Newlands Girls' School to the golf course.

In 2017, then-Desborough College principal Paul Frazer proposed a merger between the two schools onto the golf course site which would retain single-sex teaching for pupils aged 11-16 but create a mixed sixth form.

“If it [Newlands] did move, we would be able to expand it slightly up from 192 children per year group to 210,” he continued.

“I think that’s obviously something we would have to consider very carefully, and I can imagine there would be quite a lot of debate about it.

“We would be changing the priority for children for getting into the school as those families who are currently close to Newlands would no longer be as close if it moved to the golf course.”

Mr Wright said he expected a public consultation on how to deliver the site’s school provision ‘once we decide there is a need for a new secondary school on this site’.

However, he went on to say that a primary school would be expected ‘much earlier’ than a secondary school due to the current demand for places.

“It’s probably worth me saying at this point I don’t anticipate a new secondary school going on that site for some time, simply because of where we are for school places at the moment” said Mr Wright.

“Obviously what we don’t want to do is open a school and have it empty, so I don’t anticipate a new secondary school on that site for the foreseeable future, but we would be looking at primary school provision much earlier.”

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