Housing boom means a new school is vital, meeting is told

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A NEW primary school is desperately needed to stop overcrowding – and it needs to be built sooner rather than later.

That was the verdict last night as the future of school places in Horndean, Rowlands Castle and Clanfield was discussed at a public meeting.

Around 20 members of public attended the community forum at Merchistoun Hall in Horndean.

Martin Shefferd, school organisation officer for Hampshire, said any new primary school in Horndean would be an academy and would need to be sponsored, as in the case of the new Berewood Academy in Waterlooville.

A 210-place primary school was being offered as part of the proposed 700-home development at Hazleton Farm, he said.

However, Mr Shefferd warned that 1,400 homes could potentially be built across the area – meaning that 420 primary school places may be needed.

If this amount of development came to fruition, it would generate up to £7m-worth of developers’ contributions towards much-needed education and infrastructure improvements.

He said a baby boom in recent years had put pressure on the early years.

‘Seeking places to Year R is becoming incredibly tight and that will eventually filter through,’ he said.

Martin Goff, head of information, transport and admissions at the county’s children’s services department, added: ‘I don’t think either of us can sit here and promise there won’t be temporary classrooms in local schools.’

Marge Harvey, county councillor, told The News: ‘Rowlands Castle is oversubscribed.

‘In Horndean some of the schools are oversubscribed and I really do feel that we need this new school which Hazleton Farm will bring forward.’

Cllr Harvey added: ‘My big worry is if that doesn’t come along, we still have a problem with all the places.’

Nicola Stone, a mum of two whose children go to school in Horndean, told The News: ‘Horndean Infant and Junior School share the same site.

‘The site really is overcrowded. I can’t see where temporary classrooms would go. We need to think about the whole infrastructure – not just putting in housing. If we can get a school that’s modern and equipped to deal with future generations, that’s fantastic.’