Rydens unveils expansion plans on school field site

School plans: Rydens

School plans: Rydens

First published in News This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Rydens Enterprise School (RES) has unveiled plans to sell its existing site for development and build a new, bigger school on existing playing fields.

The Hersham Road school wants to pay for the rebuild by selling off existing land for developers to build up to 300 homes.

The new school, on land north of Bell Farm School, would be fully suited to modern day education and designed to build on their “existing strengths of quality of education and pastoral care” and could open in September 2016.

Despite the pledge for better facilities and a “21st century education” for pupils, the plans, registered with Elmbridge Council on January 10, have already received objections.

Dave Walden, of Hersham Gardens, said the impacts of the residential development will have an effect on the “entire local environment from infrastructure to amenities”, while others have expressed major concerns about traffic.

In a letter to the council, Georgina Colwell, of Albany Road, said: “This is another example of precious green spaces being lost. Green spaces are vital for our children’s health and wellbeing and private profit should not take precedence over the health and welfare of people already living in this overcrowded area.”

Councillor Ian Donaldson, representing Hersham North, did not believe the extra pupil numbers would create additional traffic, with many using public transport or walking to the school from the proposed housing development.

He said: “The school is not really fit for purpose at the moment. If you see the classrooms, the walls are bowing. Looking at the fields, there is plenty of land and not all of the fields are used most of the time. I can see good reasoning to sell off the brownfield, the old part of the school, for housing and put in the new school directly behind Bell Farm. I see no problem with it.”

Nikki Knight, principal of Rydens, said the proposals were “exciting times” for parents and the school alike.

She said: “I hope soon to be able to offer them a school with state of the art facilities that match the very best in the country.

“The school will be bigger than the current school due to increasing demand for places, but it will have the feel of four smaller schools on one site due to the innovative house structure. They [the architect] have created a really high quality design that has the potential to enhance the Hersham environment and bring the school into the heart of the community.”

The school announced its plans for expansion in late 2012 and the design of the housing development has been redesigned to increase the amount of open space and improve traffic flow.

To submit your views on the application, visit elmbridge.gov.uk/planning/online.htm using reference 2013/5035.

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