Derbyshire County Council to debate future of Wirksworth schools

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Derbyshire County Council members will meet this week to discuss how best to meet future primary school demand in Wirksworth.

The issue is on the agenda for the council’s cabinet, meeting on Thursday, October 26, and is based on work in the Local Plan developed by Derbyshire Dales District Council.

The Local Plan will guide housing development in the district over the next 15 years, and makes provision for 771 new homes spread over two sites in the town.

A report prepared by county council officers states: “The development would generate an additional 154 primary pupils and 116 secondary pupils.

“There are two infant and one junior school in Wirksworth at present. All three sites are constrained and expansion would not be possible.”

Wirksworth Junior School in particular is expected to have 20 more pupils by 2022 than its current 150 capacity.

Wirksworth Town Council is currently preparing its own Neighbourhood Plan, which has reaffirmed the need for more school accommodation.

It also recommends changing the education system to a primary school model, rather than the current infant and junior arrangement.

The county council is now proposing to run a public consultation which would allow schools, parents and all other local residents to consider the options and express their views.

The draft consultation being debated this week boils down to a choice between building a single replacement primary school for all pupils in Wirksworth, or a smaller additional school to accommodate the growth in population.

The consultation would also outline possible sites for a school, together with planning officers’ notes on the impact of any development.

A site at The Meadows in Wirksworth has been under consideration for a potential new school site but the space is now thought insufficient for the scale of accommodation that would be required.

In February 2017, the county council identified an alternative site at Cromford Road, and during the Local Plan process the district council also touted two more viable areas around Middle Peak Quarry as possibilities.

If approved by the cabinet, the consultation would run from November 2 to December 17.

To read the draft consultation and background information, see https://goo.gl/zrfi4x.