New Worcester Secondary School frequently asked questions
The school will be delivered by Worcestershire County Council and run by the multi-academy trust Oasis Community Learning.
The existing site
Where is the site?
The Site is located in Worcester to the south of Newtown Road, north of Worcester Woods Country Park, west of Nunnery Way and to the east of Worcester Hospital, separated by a parcel of agricultural land that is excluded from the application boundary.
What is the existing land and use?
The Site is a c.7.3 hectare roughly triangular shaped parcel of land (field pasture) located between Newtown Road and the A4440 roundabout. Whilst the Site is not public land, it is used in part by the public due to the existence of a public bridleway crossing the site from north to south. The parcel of land is bounded on all sides by existing hedgerows.
The Site has been allocated in the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) for mixed use development since 2016. In the Review document (the updated) of the SWDP the Site has been listed as re-allocated for a Secondary School.
The proposed development
What is the proposed development?
The proposed development comprises a 600 place mainstream Secondary School for pupils between the age range of 11 – 16. It is anticipated that the full 600 places of the school would not be reached until 2031.
The development currently proposes two main buildings, external sports pitches, a multi-use games area, landscaping, parking and associated infrastructure. The development would also provide a community use element.
What’s the timing for this proposed development?
- site allocated for mixed use development in the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) – 2016
- initial consultation on a new secondary school completed – May to June 2021
- Cabinet Report approving the Council to acquire the land and apply for planning permission for the 600 place secondary school – November 2021
- site re-allocated in the updated “Review” of the SWDP for a Secondary School in late 2022 (yet to be adopted formally).
- initial designs and layouts prepared May 2023
- pre-application public consultation during June 2023
- a planning application will be submitted in late summer 2023
- it is not yet known when the application will be reported to committee and the remaining timetable depends on when a decision is issued by the Local Authority
- practical completion and centre opening of the school is targeted as summer 2026
- the school will initially cater for 120 pupils in its first year of operation, and its intake will grow each year until total occupancy is achieved in 2031
What is the scale/size of the development?
The School would be set within a land parcel Circa 7.3 hectares in size, the anticipated size of different key components are as follows:
- Community and main school building – 10.8m (H) x 105m (L) x 30m (W widest point)
- Teaching building - 9m (H) x 82m (L) x 19m (W)
- Bridge link - 9.1m (H) x 24m (L) x 10m (W).
- Multi Use Games Areas x2 - 3m (H) (fencing) x 37m (L) x 18.5m (W)
- 2 no. Football Pitches - 106m (L) x 70m (W) each
- Car parking from Newtown Road – 85 car parking spaces (incl. 7 disabled spaces)
- Car parking from Nunnery Way (event overflow parking only) – 28 car parking spaces.
- Cycle parking – to cater for both pupils and staff
What are the development’s operation hours?
The normal operating hours will be during the school day. Community use would extend the operations of the Site until 10pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm on Saturday.
What are the benefits to the local community and economy?
The secondary school will serve the local community:
In February 2021, the Cabinet gave approval to establish a New Build 600 place Secondary School in Worcester City to meet the increased demand for secondary school (Years 7 – 11) places.
The delivery of a new school in Worcester will ensure sufficient places across the City and ensure an element of surplus to ensure families have some choice; all children moving into the City during a school year can be offered provision within 20 days; and all children who want to access a place in their local community are able to do so, reducing travel times.
The proposed school would also have some community use associated with it, benefiting the community further, mainly in the form of sporting provision however more information will be provided as part of the formal planning application.
Job opportunities also – see below
Who will be constructing the proposed development?
John Graham Construction Ltd would construct the School should planning permission be granted by Worcestershire County Council’s planning department.
Who will operate the School?
Oasis Community Learning.
Oasis Community Learning was established as a Multi-Academy Trust in 2004 with the vision to create “Exceptional Education at the Heart of the Community”. They now run academies in five main regions throughout the UK, providing either Primary, Secondary or All-through education to over 32,000 young people.
All of their academies are committed to providing a rich educational experience and ensuring that every child and young person has the
opportunity to achieve at the highest level. Their ethos is integral to that provision. It is an expression of their character, a statement of who they are and therefore the lens through which they assess all they do. They are committed to a model of inclusion, equality, healthy relationships, hope and perseverance throughout all aspects of the life and culture of each academy community.
What is the site allocated for in the Local Plan?
The Site is allocated for a new Secondary School under WCEMREAL01 in the South Worcestershire Development Review (Reg 19) document.
The Site was previously allocated for mixed use under reference SWDP 43/15 (CFS0703) since 2016.
How many jobs will be available?
At capacity, it is anticipated that the school will employ 85 full time equivalent staff, comprised of both teaching and operational staff.
What about construction jobs?
There will be a range of construction and related job requirements should the project be approved, more details of the range of requirements will be provided following the planning process.
What type of jobs will be available?
The facility would create a wide range of job opportunities across a range of professions such as teaching, support staff for pupils, office and site staff at the school, technology, landscape gardeners, catering, security and other supporting roles. Full details would be released following the planning process.
When will recruitment start?
Recruitment would start approximately 12 - 18 months prior to the opening of the school.
Where can I find out about getting a job here?
It is not possible to apply for a job at this stage before planning permission is determined.
Traffic and transport
How much traffic will the development generate?
The proposals will generate staff car movements and parents dropping off and picking up children. The local catchment of the school is expected to result in a high proportion of children walking and cycling to school with only a small proportion driven to school. A full Transport Assessment will be submitted as part of the planning application.
What impact will the proposed development have on local roads and traffic?
The development is expected to have a minimal impact on local roads, particularly as only the morning school drop off coincides with peak traffic volumes on the network. Detailed traffic surveys have been carried out in the local area and the impact of additional traffic will be fully assessed within a full Transport Assessment, which will be submitted as part of the planning application.
Newtown Road is already busy during the day, why is the access from this road deemed to be suitable?
Newtown Road provides the most safe and convenient access for children arriving at school. The improvements are designed to minimise disruption to through traffic, including routes to the hospital.
Where will buses park/ drop off students?
It is anticipated buses will only be used by the school for trips away for pupils. These will use a drop off area in front of the school once children have already arrived.
Where will parents park/ drop off students?
Parents will be directed to use a drop off / pick up area within the development site in front of the school buildings.
Why is there an access to the South from Nunnery Way?
The access from Nunnery Way will serve a community overflow car park, which can also be used to segregate public use from the wider school grounds. The access will also serve the remaining agricultural land to the west.
What level of deliveries from HGVs are expected during operation?
The school is likely to generate daily deliveries for food and supplies while also requiring refuse collection two or three times a week. Overall, it is estimated to have up to two or three HGVs per day. This information would be included in the full Transport Assessment to be submitted as part of the planning application.
What type of traffic is expected during the Construction phase?
The construction of the school will require deliveries of construction materials, plant and removal of waste/excess material on a variety of sizes of vehicle, such as articulated HGVs, concrete mixers and tipper trucks. Construction workers will also travel to the site on a daily basis. Traffic will be arranged so as not to coincide with the busiest traffic periods (peak hours).
Why are you diverting the Bridleway?
The current bridleway passes through the centre of the development site and will therefore require diversion to facilitate the construction of school buildings. A route will be retained with a generous width following the western boundary of the field and therefore only a slight increase in the current route length.
Design and visual impact
What would the buildings look like?
The building and grounds are important facilities supporting the community and will have gravitas and clear identity. The building sits in the landscape at different plateaux’s within the topography to create place for students, staff and community, while breaking up the massing of the build.
The form and composition of the building is based on creating comfortable and positive internal environments while reinforcing the links between internal and external spaces.
Materials chosen are based on longevity and forming an appearance which is timeless and supports the importance of the school as a beacon in the landscape.
What would be the visual impact?
The Site location and topography affords more open views to the north and east but limits potential impacts to sensitive places to the south and west, notably Worcester Woods.
The proposed building location seeks to limit the potential impact on sensitive places (such as footpaths and houses). The wider planting and green infrastructure will be designed to benefit the visual experience from areas around the site.
A Landscape Appraisal will support the planning application along with a landscaping plan.
What external environment will be created?
The Proposed Development has been designed to retain as much existing woodland, tree and meadow areas as possible, however with any development on previously undeveloped land, some losses are expected. It is anticipated that the areas free from development will be planted with native species and will also include native hedgerow. A plan showing the landscape proposals will be submitted as part of the planning application.
Environment and sustainability
What on-site surveys have taken place so far?
Various environmental surveys have taken place to understand the site further. These include:
Ecology Surveys to establish whether any protected species are using the Site.
Tree Surveys to assess the trees on Site including number, species, sizes and health of the trees.
Geophysical Archaeological Survey to establish whether there are likely to be any historic anomalies in the ground such as buried archaeological remains, walls etc which could have an archaeological value.
Ground Investigations to survey whether the ground has any existing contamination or whether there would be any concerns structurally with the ground that needs resolving prior to designing a building.
Topographical and Utilities Survey – this involves mapping out the various levels of the Site and identifying any below the ground utilities such as drainage pipes, electric or gas lines so they can be avoided.
Noise and Air Quality assessments – These assess the baseline conditions in relation to the Site, so that when the building is designed an assessment can be made as to what impacts would occur for noise and air quality on sensitive receptors.
Traffic Surveys assess the existing junctions and road network for number of vehicles, type of vehicles, times of use and then an assessment would be undertaken of the designed site to add new traffic to the existing survey data so reports submitted to planning would be reflective of the likely scenario.
Visual inspections there have also been a number of different walkover surveys to establish the site visually, understand the local context and take photographs of the Site to show actual conditions.
How will the proposed development affect the local wildlife?
The ecological surveys have searched for the full range of protected species based on habitats identified, undertaking seasonal surveys to ensure the timing was optimum for them to be found. The main findings were that slow worms ( a legless lizard/ reptile) were found on the Site. As these have been found, a programme of habitat creation has been identified as possible in the Worcester Woods Country Park and some preliminary landscaping has begun to ensure its suitability should planning be approved.
Will the development create a Biodiversity Net Gain?
As with all developments it is expected that if a development reduces habitat, vegetation and plant species, it will be replaced on a like for like basis or replaced with better quality habitat to offset the loss to our environment. In this instance whilst some biodiversity will be provided on Site, a proportion of enhancements are likely to be provided in other areas around Worcester as compensation.
Will the proposed development cause flooding?
Environment Agency Flood Mapping indicates that the site is in Flood Zone 1 and is at low risk from river flooding.
The proposed development will incorporate suitable forms of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) for the proposed Site, agreed with the Lead Local Flood Authority, to ensure that surface water collected within the site is appropriately managed to control flooding of the site and to prevent the development from negatively impacting the wider surface water catchment downstream.
As the Site is over 1 hectare in size, a Flood Risk Assessment and Drainage Strategy will be undertaken to support the planning application. Given the above, it is anticipated that there would be no significant negative effect as a result of the development.
Is the ground under the proposed development contaminated, if so, how will this be dealt with?
A Ground Investigation has been undertaken at the Site in October 2022 by Applied Geology, which will be submitted as part of the application. The Site appears to have been previously undeveloped.
The report states the Site is not indicated to be within an area of underground coal mining activities, not within a radon affected area.
The report states that the risk assessment undertaken established a negligible risk to end users and to controlled water receptors. It is considered no further assessment or remedial actions are warranted for a proposed school, however, should any sources of contamination be identified during redevelopment, a specialist would be consulted to enable additional investigation.
During construction groundworks, safe working procedures will also be implemented and procedures put in place to identify and deal with unexpected contamination should it occur.
Will the proposed development impact upon archaeology or nearby historic buildings?
The Site does not lie within 500m of any statutory or non-statutory historically designated assets (Scheduled Monuments, World Heritage Sites, Listed Buildings, Registered Battlefields, Parks and Gardens). According to the Worcester City Council website, the Site does not lie within a Conservation Area.
It is understood from a previous Archaeological Evaluation undertaken by Cotswold Archaeology in 2004, that no prehistoric activity was recorded locally to the Site. No finds from Roman period associated with Worcester have been identified within the vicinity of the Site. Any archaeological interest arises from a cropmark at the Southern end of the Site which was investigated as part of further investigation which identified small quantities of pottery, ceramic building material, clay pipe and metal artefacts. A single sherd of 1st to 2nd century Severn Valley ware was recovered and the remainder of material was post-medieval or modern in date.
A new desktop study will be provided as part of the planning process as well as further investigation works as deemed necessary.
What about the impacts on air quality?
Detailed studies have begun and an Air Quality Assessment will be undertaken to assess potential local air quality effects as a result of the Proposed Development, the Air Quality Assessment will then consider whether any additional mitigation measures are required to reduce the impacts to an acceptable level.
Measures to reduce air quality impacts will be implemented through a Construction Management plan during construction.
Will I be affected by noise from the proposed development?
Detailed assessments have begun to determine existing background noise levels to enable this to be compared to future plant and traffic noise levels. Provisionally, based on this current draft design impacts are not anticipated to be unacceptable, however a full assessment will be submitted with the planning application.