Where will the children of GB1 and GB2 go to school?

I’m going to use these blogs as a way of both updating you regularly on what I’m doing and also sometimes taking a longer look at a specific issue. Today’s issue is: school places.

Many local residents went along to the engagement event held last week by the developer of the GB2 ‘Newbury Farm’ site (Wort’s Causeway) and several of you have subsequently been in touch to give me your thoughts. One big concern is about where the children who will live on that site (and GB1 too, when it is developed) will go to school.

Responsibility for providing an adequate supply of school places rests with Cambridgeshire County Council, which produces a very helpful document, updated each year, summarising the situation – you can find the most recent edition here. On page 66, they explain the ‘multiplier’ they use to estimate the expected number of pre-school/primary/secondary school places which will be needed as a result of new housing developments:

  • 20-30 pre-school aged pupils per 100 dwellings
  • 30-40 primary children per 100 dwellings
  • 18-25 secondary pupils per 100 dwellings

If you apply those multipliers to approximately 450 dwellings intended for GB1 and GB2, you can assume they will require at least:

  • 90 pre-school places
  • 135 primary school places (19 extra children per year, Reception to Year 6)
  • 80 secondary school places

Add in the children now resident on the almost-completed Ninewells development (260 dwellings) and the number of places needed goes up further. Yet the same document clearly states: “There is very little surplus capacity in the south of the City, with families moving into often having to be offered places at schools some distance from their home. There are several catchment areas where there is projected to be an imbalance between the demand for places and available capacity. The level of infill housing developments within these areas could lead to a shortfall of provision within the next 3-5 years. Currently, it is anticipated that Cherry Hinton is the only planning area which will have spare capacity” (page 24).

So what does that mean for us? Both Queen Emma and Queen Edith primaries are already more or less at capacity and are likely to remain so. There is no intention to build another standalone school, so presumably pressure will be put on at least one of the Queen’s Federation schools to move to three-form entry. Or maybe the County Council is relaxed about the idea of families living on Wort’s Causeway travelling out to Cherry Hinton to access schooling, regardless of the impact on traffic levels, public health, quality of life and community…

You have until 31st May to get in touch with the developer, so if you haven’t already done so, take a look at the publicity here and let them know what you think. You could also copy your comments to Queen Edith’s County Councillor Amanda Taylor and City Councillors George Pippas, Colin McGerty and Jennifer Page-Croft.

Let’s have our say on the ‘GB2’ housing development site

We have heard from This Land, the developer of the GB2 housing development site between Wort’s Causeway and Babraham Road, that they will be holding a drop-in community engagement event about their proposals on Tuesday 14th and Wednesday 15th May, 4pm-8pm, at Netherhall Sports Centre on Queen Edith’s Way.

This is a crucial opportunity for QE residents to provide their input on the plans. It is inevitable that development will happen – of the order of 230 houses, so about the same size as Ninewells – and this is our chance to influence the character of what is built and its relationship with our existing community.

If you are not able to come along, you can see what is planned so far, and give feedback by visiting the Newbury Farm website (this is the name they are using for the development, at least in the short term). I really do encourage you to get involved, ask questions and get your views heard.