11 Emson Close | Saffron Walden | Essex | CB10 1HL
13.1 Essex County Council has full responsibility for provision of education and sets contribution rates for developers. ECC also sets out specifications for school sites, which if followed will make any new school sites sustainable from a planning perspective, and which are therefore fully supported by the SWNP.
13.2 Public consultations demonstrated widespread concern about a lack of school places available in Saffron Walden. This concern was supported by the report Commissioning School Places in Essex 2016-2021 which forecasted deficits in Saffron Walden of 138 secondary school places and 102 primary school places by 2021.
13.3 Statistical forecasts appear to have shifted since then. The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System officially announced in March 2016 that there was no need for an additional primary school as the population of young children is growing more slowly than forecast, possibly because the current housing developments are attracting older families.
13.4 The SWNP expects this demographic to shift again, as it puts more focus on building homes for younger families, which will in turn increase the birth-rate and become a driver for the need for additional primary school places. It is likely that this need will arise in the east of Saffron Walden, which has seen the most new development.
13.5 A site for a single form entry primary school at the east of the town was secured as part of a planning condition for application UTT/13/3467/OP. This site would be augmented to a two-form entry primary school as part of the planning application UTT/17/2832/OP. These sites must be reserved for educational use, or for community use unless or until they are required for educational use.
13.6 An additional secondary school is unlikely to be forthcoming, as the funding for this would require development of around 2,000 additional homes, and the current transportation infrastructure would not support this level of development. However, the current constraint on places at Saffron Walden County High School may need to be addressed in the near future.
13.7 The County Council, in response to planning applications submitted in 2018, noted that there are zero unfilled places in early years childcare. The CIC or Community Interest Company structure is more likely to be able to deliver a feasible early years childcare business than a purely profit-driven organisation.
13.8 Adult and Community Learning (ACL) Essex offers a limited number of adult education courses at 37-39 Fairycroft Road, and for all other courses adult students travel out of the town or do online courses. Additional facilities provision for adult and vocational courses will be welcomed.
13.9 The SWNP strongly supports the retention of a single high school which serves the whole town.
13.10 The library in Saffron Walden is located in the former Corn Exchange situated on the Market Square. This site puts this educational and cultural facility in the centre of Saffron Walden and change of use for this building will not be supported.
1. Planning application for early years childcare provision will be supported, where the potential provider has assessed that there is a local need.
2. The land allocated in planning applications UTT/13/3467/OP and UTT/17/2832/OP for a primary school must be reserved for educational use, or for community use unless or until required for educational use.
3. Change of use for the Corn Exchange which houses the library will not be supported.
4. Planning applications and provision for a separate 6th Form College, or expansion of Saffron Walden County High School (SWCHS) onto a separate site to allow space for SWCHS to expand will be supported.
This policy supports the Neighbourhood Plan Objectives 1,2,5
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Saffron Walden will be an economically active and self-sustaining town, offering equal opportunities to all.
Saffron Walden’s residents will be able to live as healthily as possible.
Saffron Walden will be an environmentally sustainable town.
Saffron Walden’s heritage assets, high quality landscape and conservation areas will be protected or enhanced.
Saffron Walden will retain its market-town feel and community spirit.