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SOLIHULL: Expansion plans at Alderbrook school approved despite fears

SOLIHULL: Expansion plans at Alderbrook school approved despite fears

Image: LDRS

Expansion plans at a Solihull secondary school have been approved in spite of warnings they could pile further pressure on nearby roads.

A two-storey block is to be built at Alderbrook School’s current campus, in order to allow its pupil-roll to increase by 150.

As of September 2022 it is intended to add an extra form and help cater for the sizeable new housing estates being built in the catchment area.

Although some are worried the £3 million scheme will create further issues on surrounding streets, already notorious for traffic and parking problems.

Despite these misgivings, the borough’s planning committee this week gave its unanimous backing to the expansion.

Cllr Max McLoughlin (Green, Shirley South) had told the meeting the cumulative impact of having three growing secondary schools, a primary and a stand-alone college in a small radius couldn’t be ignored.

“The concentration of schools in such close proximity was always an issue,” he said.

“The tendency to continually expand schools rather than build new ones has created problems all over the country, but here we have five educational establishments that have grown since they were built.

“Now I can see the school have given good consideration of the impact on residents and this is not an issue of their making, they were told to increase their intake by this council.”

As previously reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), residents on the likes of Grandborough Drive and Whitefields Road have complained about congestion, parking and dangerous manoeuvres.

The depth of concern was enough to derail a previous request to expand nearby St Augustine’s Primary last year.

Although councillors were reassured that steps had been taken to ensure this latest proposal had been carefully constructed to avoid issues.

The Alderbrook expansion was signed-off by the then cabinet member for education earlier in the year, but the building work itself required separate planning approval.

In a letter to parents in March, Alderbrook had confirmed the increased intake would not result in any changes to the current admissions policy and plans were being drawn up to ensure “limited disruption to the normal running of the school.”

Peter Carroll, from Solihull Council’s land and property team, had explained the importance of ensuring the growing demand for more places was met.

“The council has a statutory duty to provide sufficient school places,” he said.

“Over the next seven years, secondary school rolls are forecast to rise by nearly six per cent to just under 16,695 pupils.”

In the short-term the expansion would be intended to help cater for the houses being built at the likes of Blythe Valley, but it is noted that other estates are planned and expected to appear in the coming years.

Cllr Michael Gough (Con, Silhill) said he understood local frustrations about traffic problems but there was no escaping the squeeze on school places.

“We need places for children to go to school … Alderbrook has been a victim of its own success.

Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter


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