Manstone Depot move could save school ‘£100k-a-year’

Paul Walker.

Paul Walker. - Credit: Archant

Land earmarked for housing could be used instead for education if Sidmouth Primary School’s aim to expand is included in East Devon’s development blueprint.

EDDC's Manstone Depot Ref shs 2762-15-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn

EDDC's Manstone Depot Ref shs 2762-15-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Its governing body and the Exeter Diocesan Board of Education are appealing to district chiefs to help them address a shortage of space – and save £100,000 a year.

They joined East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Local Plan consultation with calls for extra space to be included in the document, which, once finalised, will detail development up to 2031.

Headteacher Paul Walker said that one option would be to use Manstone Depot so its infant sites at Manstone Avenue and Vicarage Road can merge.

The depot is currently allocated for 20 homes in the draft Local Plan, although it was marketed along with Knowle earlier this year and received no interest from developers.

Writing to EDDC, Mr Walker said if the school took it on, it could create six new classrooms, a play area and parking at the Manstone Avenue site and free up Vicarage Road for building space.

He added: “The funding issues would still remain - this would not create new spaces, but will allow us the capacity to create space if needed.

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“This will also enhance the educational provision in the town.

“More importantly, this will save the school in the region of £100,000 a year in additional site costs - money that could be used to support the educational provision within the school.”

The school’s main site is in Woolbrook Road.

Mr Walker told EDDC that the ideal solution would be to move the school onto a single site, but this is considered highly unlikely.

He adds: “Moving onto one site could allow all school resources to be rationalised and centralise educational provision. Unfortunately, government policy does not support this type of work, as funding is only available to support creation of new spaces.”

A final option for the school to stay the same as it is would be fine in the short term, but will cause issues among its infant classes, where pressure on places is greatest, said Mr Walker.