A GRAND plan to bring three schools in West Somerset together will this week become a reality – and one of them is set for a major overhaul.
The federated schools of Danesfield Middle, St Peter’s First and Old Cleeve First are joining together in a multi-academy trust and, from Saturday, will be known as the Quantock Academy.
A planning application has also been submitted to West Somerset Council to build a new hall and pre-school at Old Cleeve School.
While the academy status has been hailed as a ‘driving factor’ in securing money for the work at Old Cleeve, a range of concerns has also been raised about the refurbishment.
Ian Bradbury, executive head teacher of the Quantock Academy, said while it would, in many respects, be ‘business as usual’ for pupils, they will enjoy better resources.
He said: “With all of the changes going on in education, the academy status gives us the freedom and the ability to respond even better to these changes.
”The new hall at Old Cleeve would replace the existing wooden huts used as temporary classrooms, while there are plans for a new kitchen, toilets and storage area.
Mr Bradbury added: “We have been able to bid for a refurbishment because we’re an academy, and that was really one of the driving factors.
“The children deserve the best possible learning environment.”
However, a number of people have written to West Somerset Council with concerns.
Pamela Scragg, clerk to Old Cleeve Parish Council, wrote: “Local residents have expressed concerns to parish councillors that range from the height of the new building as viewed by residents in McKinley Terrace, Dudley Cottage and Honeysuckle Cottage, to serious parking concerns and that, given the flooding problems, a flood barrier should be placed at the doorway.
“The overall feeling of the parish council is that the plans are disingenuous and that the standard of the application is very poor.”
Bridget Gilpin, whose home is next to the school, adds: “The proposed extension to the main school building will mean the school will be in even greater proximity to my house, restricting privacy and light to the front of my home.
“As with many other residents in Washford, I am concerned about the volume of traffic and parking restrictions during term time.
“Recently, the staff have taken over the village hall car park and parents are also encouraged to park there when collecting their children.
“Unfortunately, this has simply removed the problem to other areas of the village.”
Another correspondent, John Wilcox, wrote: “The development is too large for the setting as it will dominate and diminish the whole centre of the village.”
A consultation on the project ends on March 12.