Richmond College and Haymarket plans get Government go ahead

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A new secondary free school on the Richmond College site was given the go-ahead by the Government on Thursday.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools Lord Nash approved the application, submitted to the Department for Education by the Richmond College Free School Trust earlier this year.

The trust is made up of the college, Richmond Council, children's service Achieving for Children and Harlequins Rugby Club.

Scheduled to open in September 2017, the school will form part of the Richmond Education and Enterprise Campus (Reec), whose consultation period was criticised last week.

The site will provide new buildings and facilities for the college, a pupose-built building for Richmond's Clarendon School and a new headquarters for the Teddington-based Haymarket Media Group.

Lord True, leader of the council, said: "We are delighted to have received the go ahead to set up this new school which will offer an outstanding education alongside workplace opportunities.

"It has long been part of our strategic plan for secondary education in the borough.

"Our proposal proved that there is a huge demand for a new secondary school in the Twickenham area of our borough and our unique educational vision has resonated with local parents."

It will be a five-form entry school, taking in 150 pupils each year, with sixth form education provided by the redeveloped college.

The planning process for phase one of the development, the new college building and Haymarket building, is due to commence in spring 2014, with the second phase, including the schools, set for autumn.

Construction is scheduled to begin in summer 2015, with Haymarket’s buildings due for completion in late 2016 and the school’s and the college’s the following year.

David Ansell, principal at Richmond College, said: "This is a momentous milestone in the partnership’s work to create a new campus of education and enterprise in Richmond.

"We now have the green light to create a new school that will really put Twickenham on the map."

Last week, community group Heatham Alliance accused the council of "ignoring its commitments to transparent consultations" with the large-scale development proposals.

A Reec spokesman defended the consultation and said there had been plenty of opportunities for community groups to air their views.

Harlequins chief executive David Ellis said: "Harlequins are immensely proud to be a part of the secondary free school project and we are very excited about today’s announcement."

There will also be residential developments, for which timelines have previously been described as "uncertain".

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