Cobham Free School secondary plans in doubt

This Is Local London: Free school: This plan now looks dead in the water Free school: This plan now looks dead in the water

The future of Cobham Free School’s secondary provision has been thrown into turmoil after developers pulled out of the controversial proposals.

The permanent senior school building, planned for Chippings Farm, Portsmouth Road, was to be built with 500 homes built by Cala Homes and the development could not proceed on the site without both components.

But Cala Homes, responsible only for the homes, pulled after expressing concerns three months ago that there were too many agencies involved.

A Cala Homes spokeswoman confirmed the company was no longer involved in the project.

Alistair Mann, chairman of Cobham Chamber of Commerce, said at a meeting earlier this year that Cala Homes did not think the site would be ready for September 2015.

Mr Mann said: “They were frustrated at that point because they were trying to get contracts between the free school, Education Funding Agency, Department for Education and Burhill Estates.

“Cala Homes wouldn’t build the school and would have to subcontract that.”

But Mr Mann said another developer was rumoured to be looking at the site, but it was unclear whether that would involve building the secondary school.

A source, who wished to remain anonymous, said the free school was in talks for St Andrew’s Primary School becoming a feeder school, with considerations under way as to where the school could be built.

It has previously been identified St Andrew’s is an appropriate site for a secondary, set in 10 acres and with one of the lowest densities of pupils per acre in the county.

Howard Morris, chairman of governors at Cobham Free School, said: “I can confirm that we are on track to open our secondary department this September, with our first year 7 intake of three classes totalling 72 pupils. These pupils will be accommodated on site in the former police station building in Portsmouth Road.

“I regret that I am not in a position to comment on the location of our permanent site, other than to confirm that we are in detailed negotiations and we expect to be making a further announcement shortly.”

An Elmbridge Council spokeswoman confirmed the school was yet to submit any form of planning application and did not know whether the school intended to pursue the scheme.

The council spokeswoman said that when submitted, it would take 13 weeks before a decision could be made.

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