PLAYING fields in Rokeby – close to land where plans to build 860 homes were rejected two weeks ago – could make way for a primary school and a new secondary school.
Rokeby Sports Ground, between Fawsley Leys and Long Furlong, has been earmarked as the new site for Rokeby Primary School – subject to planning approval.
The school will move to the new site to make way for two new schools, one of which will take up Rokeby Primary’s current premises in Anderson Avenue.
A Special Free School will move in to the current Rokeby site, while the former site next door – currently home to 13 live-in property guardians – will be renovated to temporarily house Rugby Free Secondary School (RFSS).
The first RFSS students will move to the former infant school site in September 2016. The current primary school will be adapted to create the new Special Free School which has been approved to open in 2017.
Rokeby Primary School will relocate to new buildings on the council-owned fields where it can be expanded to two classes per year. The permanent new site for the sixth-form entry, 1,260-place RFSS will then be developed alongside the primary school.
Plans to build on nearby farmland between Ashlawn Road and Norton Leys were rejected by Rugby Borough Council two weeks ago due to traffic concerns.
Coun Bill Lewis, who represents Rokeby and Overslade on Rugby Borough Council, and who led the Stop Ashlawn Road Development campaign, said the news had come as a surprise to himself and the school.
He said: “We need to look at the details; things like where the access is going to be, and exactly how far it is going to extend into the playing fields, are of great interest to residents.
“We will be looking at that with some trepidation and interest.”
Fellow Liberal Democrat Coun Jerry Roodhouse, who represents Paddox ward, feared the plans could clash with Ashlawn School’s intentions to expand onto the bordering farmland.
He said: “It sounds like utter madness to me – it doesn’t seem to have been planned at all. We’ve already got a competing secondary school looking to expand in the same area.
“Avon Valley is the only secondary school in the north of the town. To have two secondaries on the south side but nothing new in the north just beggars belief.”
Warwickshire County Council’s (WCC) schools spokesman Coun Colin Hayfield said: “This represents very good news for all concerned. The growing demand for school places has to be addressed and the potential expansion of Rokeby Primary School allows us to do this without any additional cost to the county council.
“We will now put plans out to consultation and get the views of local families.”
The Special School will provide 80 additional places for children with autism and social, emotional and mental health needs from 9 to 19 years of age.
RFSS, proposed by Knowledge School Trust which opened Rugby Free Primary School in September last year, has been given preliminary approval by the Department for Education which will, subject to a Funding Agreement, fund and build the schools through the Education Funding Agency.