Planning Application Responses from the Principal
Construction of our new £2.9m STEM Centre is well on schedule. The main steel frame structure was completed by the end of the summer, with the outer cladding and internal work taking place throughout the autumn and winter. The two-storey centre will consist of 4 science labs, 6 teaching rooms, prep rooms, as well as a fabulous main foyer and atrium, and will have its official opening on Friday 24 April.
Further updates will be added as they become available.
Additional fencing has been put in place to try and deter people climbing the top gate and the Friar Close fence. This is a precautionary measure to keep people safe. There will be vehicular movement in that area. As soon as the spoil is removed the need for fencing will be reviewed and appropriate action taken.
Asset of Community Value
The strip of land in question was nominated as an Asset of Community Value by a local pressure group. I can assure you that the listing of our land as an ACV does not provide the pressure group with any real control over the land's use, sale, or price. It is largely toothless in terms of giving real rights to such groups. All the ACV regime provides is an extra six months for the group to raise funds and convince us to sell to them. The ACV affords a right to bid, not a right to be considered and they could have always exercised that right when the land comes to the market. The College land is private property and there are signs requesting the public not to trespass. In recent years we have allowed permissive access on weekdays in term time but not at other times. We have removed permissive access to the campus.
The College has identified the top gate as a potential risk to the safety to students, staff and to the security of college buildings and grounds. As we share the campus with 5 other educational establishments, this risk potentially impacts the safety of thousands of students.
- Staff working in the outer blocks have concerns regarding their safety.
- Prevent/Security Site Visit carried out by Tony Pike identified the importance & need to minimise (ideally remove completely) any unchecked access on the campus. Currently anyone could access College buildings via the top gate unchecked.
- There are 5 other educational establishments on the Campus who all have designated entrances onto their sites. Access via the top gates negates their ability to effectively apply their own Safeguarding & Prevent Policy.
- Dog walkers and unauthorised members of the public accessing the site during College open hours disrupt lessons and pose a significant threat to safety of Staff, Students and College buildings & grounds.
I have raised the issue of closing the top gate with the other schools on the campus, all either welcome this or have no issue with this. From a safeguarding perspective all the schools would prefer pupils to use the designated entrance only. I am informed that the local pressure group is seeking to have various access points to the campus including the top gate and several garden gates opening onto our land as having a ‘right of way’. This is something we will be opposing. We have a duty to safeguard the pupils and students attending the schools and the College and having unfettered access is not acceptable. We will be reviewing access arrangements across the site over the coming months.