West Berkshire Council

New Theale Primary School: Your Questions Answered

Your questions about the new Theale Primary School answered

2016 - image of the entrance to the proposed new Theale Primary School

We are proposing to build a new primary school in Theale. There are some questions below we are commonly asked about the project and important issues such as site selection, road safety and the need for a new school. We thought it would be helpful to provide details of those frequently asked questions and answers. 

Read our case for a new Theale Primary School

You can download our proposal for a new school in Theale and a brief summary of some of these questions here:

pdf icon New Theale School: Our Proposal & FAQ [385kb]

Last updated: 15/03/18

Click on a question to jump straight to the answer.

Why does Theale Primary School need to expand?

Theale Primary School is a one-form school built to take 30 new pupils each year. It provides places for 210 pupils as well as a 12 place Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Unit and a 26 place nursery. It is rated an Outstanding school by OFSTED.

We have a legal duty to offer a school place for all West Berkshire children who request one. To ensure enough spaces are provided our Education team monitors pupil numbers and makes forecasts based on census and GP data. In addition, a number of housing developments either have planning permission or are proposed for future development. Pupil numbers from known future housing in Theale Primary School's catchment area will total around 126 children - roughly 18 new pupils per year.

In order to meet current and future demand a site capable of supporting up to 420 places - which is 60 new pupils each year. The new site will be to construct a school capable of taking up to 45 pupils each year (to meet current demand) but which has been designed for easy expansion to when the new housing is built.

As an interim measure temporary accommodation has been constructed on site to allow up to 45 pupils to be offered places each year. The school was not built to cope with so many pupils and it cannot continue to take so many pupils. Admissions legislation requires us to confirm September 2019 admission arrangements by the end of February 2018. Unless a decision is made by Theale Parish Council to relinquish the lease by 28 February, then from September 2019 Theale Primary School will return to an intake of 30 pupils.

Property Consultants, Carter Jonas were appointed by WBC and undertook the following activities in the site selection options appraisal:

  • Identification of sites in and around Theale that were capable of supporting a 5 acre school site
  • Advice on ability to acquire the sites for the purposes of a school and to retain maximum access to public open space

The appraisal found that at best an expansion of the existing site would allow for 45 new pupils each year - and not the 60 places needed. This proposal would only deal with existing school problems and require approximately 1000m² of the Recreation Ground to be given over to the new school. This would still leave a new school without dedicated playing field land, no extra parking and a scheme without any capacity for future long expansion. An extensive site selection process was undertaken in consultation with Theale Parish Council. It was agreed that the only viable option was to build a new school at another site.

If you have any questions regarding the appraisal, please email mark.lewis@westberks.gov.uk.

WBC continues to believe the future education of children in Theale is best served by a new school. If a new school cannot be delivered the £8m currently allocated to the new school will be invested in creating additional places at other schools.

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When would a new Theale Primary School open?

The new school was originally due to open in September 2017. However, the project has been delayed pending a decision by Theale Parish Council on whether it would release land it leases and without which the school cannot be built. As a result the earliest the new school would open is September 2020.

From September 2019 the school will have returned to an intake of 30 pupils each year.

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What will happen if a new school is not built?

If a new school is not built, an alternative solution(s) would need to be sought to ensure there are sufficient pupil places in the local area, based on the Theale Primary School reverting back to its original admission number of 30, to mitigate demographic pressures and impact from new housing. The Theale Primary School site, as it, cannot support a school with an admission number in excess of 30.

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Why doesn't the school expand on its current site?

There is simply not enough room to expand the school at its current site and without taking up space from the Recreation Ground. 

    During the course of 2013, Oxford Architects produced a pdf icon detailed feasibility study [6Mb] to show how a new and or refurbished school might be delivered on the existing school site. Please note: no other site study has been produced by any other body to consider re-development on the existing site.

    The feasibility study found that at best an expansion of the existing site would allow for 45 new pupils each year - and not the 60 places needed. This proposal would only deal with existing school problems and require approximately 1000m² of the Recreation Ground to be given over to the new school. This would still leave a new school without dedicated playing field land, no extra parking and a scheme without any capacity for future long expansion. Moreover any redevelopment on the site would cause considerable disruption to children and incur substantial abortive costs (approximately £1 million) in providing temporary school accommodation on the Recreation Ground. In an attempt to resolve at least one of the above major problems, further plans were drawn up showing parking on site. From the outset the exercise was flawed. All revisions, available below, required two thirds of parking to access in and out of the site via the existing single track (and right of way) between the Lamb Hotel and new housing at No 16. This is not manageable and there is no capacity to create a two lane access at this point. All of these propositions also worked on the basis that the Church would also allow the school to formally create viable parking on church land. 

    Any future expansion on site to 2 FE would require further land to be taken from the Recreation Ground in addition to the 1000m² of the Recreation Ground required for a multi-use games areas. Both Theale Parish Council and WBC agreed that redevelopment of a new school on the existing site would not answer longer term community need and be a poor use of public money. As a result it was agreed in March 2014 and confirmed in writing 16 April 2014 by Theale Parish Council that WBC should go away and find alternative sites upon which to build a new school. Please see the pdf icon emails dated 16 April from Theale Parish Council to WBC [236kb].

    A site selection process was undertaken which commenced with Property Consultants, Carter Jonas being commissioned to:

    • Identify sites in and around Theale that were capable of supporting a 5 acre school site
    • Provide advice on ability to acquire the sites for the purposes of a school and to retain maximum access to public open space

    WBC, after reviewing Carter Jonas' findings, then considered other matters relevant to a new school site including accessibility for pedestrians, accessibility for vehicles and site 'Abnormals' such as noise, existing business uses and other possible costs other than land purchase. It quickly became apparent that the only viable option was to build a new school on pdf icon Site Option 4 on the attached plan. [229kb]

    If you have any questions regarding the appraisal, please email mark.lewis@westberks.gov.uk.

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    Why can't the school be co-located on the Theale Green Secondary School site?

    Locating a two forms of entry (2FE) primary school on the site of the secondary school would significantly reduce the space available for the secondary school. The secondary school occupies a split site, with only part of the site within the freehold ownership of WBC. This places restrictions on how the site can be developed and would constrain future ability to manage pupil places across the area.

    Theale Green Secondary School has gone through a period of significant change, with changes in headship, academy programme and a more recent change in academy sponsor. Locating an OFSTED rated 'Outstanding' Primary School on the Theale Green School site is not considered to be a viable solution.

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    How was the preferred site at North Street Playing Fields chosen?

    A feasibility study was undertaken by Carter Jonas (Newbury) on behalf of WBC to identify all available land in and around Theale that might be capable of supplying 5 acres in order to deliver a new school capable of expanding to 2 FE (420 pupils). The study identified 11 sites. A number of people have asked for the Carter Jonas report dated 29 April 2014, however it is not possible to publish this because it contains commercially sensitive information which it is not appropriate to make public and nor is it available under Freedom of Information. WBC asked Carter Jonas to produce a summary report that could be published - pdf icon view the Carter Jonas Summary Report online [1Mb]. The Carter Jonas report was published to the New School Theale Project Board on 5 June 2014.

    In summary, 11 different sites in the village were initially identified and assessed on the basis of cost, location and other factors such as noise, ground condition and the impact on local businesses. Each was considered carefully but it concluded that only two were physically suitable for the new school. The others were unsuitable because of issues involving access, planning consents, cost and similar. The outcome of the sites review was passed to the parish council on 13 March 2015 prior to a meeting between Theale Parish Council and WBC on 23 March 2015. Subsequent to this, the identified sites and evaluation process were explained at a public meeting about the project held in Theale village hall on 5 June 2015.

    The 11 sites did re-include expansion on the existing school site in conjunction with further development on the Recreation Ground. This was re-visited in order to remind parties why both Theale Parish Council and WBC had rejected redevelopment on the existing site as wholly inappropriate, a conclusion which was confirmed originally to WBC by the parish council on 16 April 2014.

    The outcome of dialogue between Theale Parish Council and WBC was that two sites out of the 11 were identified as being physically capable of taking a new school, one site put forward by WBC and another site strongly preferred by Theale Parish Council. An independent highways safety assessment found both were suitable for a school with WBC Planning stating the council's proposed site was an all-round better location. This advice was given 'Without Prejudice' to the project team and any planning application would be evaluated on its individual merits. Crucially, the land needed for Theale Parish Council's preferred site would have cost three times as much to acquire as it had been put forward for housing. This prohibitive cost made delivering the school at that site unviable. From March 2015 onwards, WBC made it absolutely clear to all parties and again at the public presentation, 5 June 2015, the parish council's preferred site was wholly unaffordable and the council would not under any circumstances attempt to deliver a school on that site. This position has never changed.

    The suitability of the WBC's chosen site was robustly scrutinised during the planning process - with planning permission for the school being granted.

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    Why is Theale Parish Council involved?

    The school cannot expand on its existing site and there is only one suitable location in the village to build a new school - at the North Street playing fields.

    The North Street playing fields (around 13 acres) are owned by the Englefield Estate and leased to Theale Parish Council until 2029. The Englefield Estate has agreed to provide five acres to WBC for the new school but this requires Theale Parish Council to agree to relinquish its lease on five of the 13 acres it leases. Without this land the school cannot be built.

    To mitigate this loss the Englefield Estate has agreed to provide another 2.2 acres of land it currently uses as agricultural land. Please see the pdf icon Englefield Estate offer emails. [81kb] This is directly opposite what would become the remaining eight acres of land of North Street playing fields (should Theale Parish Council relinquish its lease). In addition, the Englefield Estate has offered Theale Parish Council new leases across all remaining and new recreational land) which would see its lease expire in 2043 rather than 2029 and which would see its maintenance lease liabilities go down proportionately.

    Planning permission to turn the 2.2 acres of agricultural land into recreational land was granted in summer 2017.

    By way of background the following is the history of consultation between WBC and Theale Parish Council:

    On the 2 February 2015 WBC contacted Theale Parish Council to arrange a meeting at which it could present its findings in terms of a new site. A date of 23 March was secured.

    On the 14 March 2015 Theale Parish Council were sent in advance of the pre-arranged meeting the following:

    1. The business case for a new school
    2. A plan illustrating all available sites for a new school (provided by Carter Jonas along with land valuations which must remain confidential)
    3. An evaluation matrix setting out the methodology for identifying a new site
    4. A plan showing the land required for a new school on the viable site identified by WBC

    Theale Parish Council and WBC then met on the 23 March 2015 to review the site options appraisal and where WBC said that the only viable option they could identify was Site Option 4 (NSPF).  As a result of the above initial review, a dialogue continued between WBC and Theale Parish Council where Theale Parish Council said they wanted WBC to consider building the school on Site Option 1 and not Site Option 4 on the grounds that Site Option 4 was not safe whereas Site Option 1 posed no highways concerns. WBC pointed out that WBC Highways had no safety concerns with Site Option 4 and also that Site Option 1 was wholly unaffordable, but in order to demonstrate objectivity, WBC confirmed to Theale Parish Council on the 28 April 2015 that the council had commissioned independent highways consultants (WSP) to review the safety of both sites. 

    On 30 March, Theale Parish Council held a parish council meeting to consider again Site Option 1 vs Site Option 4. The emerging view was that there needed to be a public meeting so that residents can understand the position. On the 29 April 2015, in order for Theale Parish Council safety concerns to be specifically noted by WBC and to pass those concerns onto the independent consultants, the Theale Parish Council Clerk, a parish councillor and WBC project manager walked the Theale highways in respect of both Site Option 1 and Site Option 4 in order to compare safety. On 30 April,  WBC confirmed to Theale Parish Council that the highways report will be completed and passed to Theale Parish Council by the 19 May. On 18 May, Theale Parish Council and WBC agree the date for a public meeting - 5 June 2015; it was confirmed the local MP would chair the meeting. Documentation from the presentation of the 5 June 2015 is publicly available. The independent highways report demonstrated that both sites were capable of safely taking a new school providing certain design features were built into any new school scheme; these have been incorporated into existing designs. 

    The independent highways report was made available, via Theale Parish Council, as a public document on 25 June 2015. The safety debate continued culminating in the independent highways consultants making a presentation to Theale Parish Council and the local MP on 29 January 2016 to explain the safety of Site Option 4 (NSPF). Having looked at safety again, site viability came down to cost. WBC again stated to Theale Parish Council they could not deliver a new school on Site Option 1 (Theale Parish Council's preferred site) and where the cost of the site would equal or exceed the cost of building a new school.

    During the course of 2016, the issue of replacement land was looked at. The Englefield Estate was approached to see what might be offered. This process over a year culminated in the Estate offering 2.2 acres of replacement playing field land to help mitigate against the loss of 5 acres required for the new school. Specifically this would mean the parish council, aside from other land it leases on the Recreation Ground and elsewhere, will be left with 8 acres on the North Street Playing Fields and adjacent to that 2.2 acres of new land. Also during 2016, WBC looked at further traffic calming measures, in addition to those required by WBC Highways, that could be implemented to assure the parish council of the safety of the chosen site for the new school. This culminated in WBC officers and the Clerk to Theale Parish Council meeting with the Speed Limit Review Panel on 25 October 2016, at which it was agreed a hybrid 20mph zone would be designed for Englefield Road. pdf icon See our map of all Highway Measures including footpaths. [705kb] Dialogue with the parish council continued thereafter.

    In March 2017, WBC asked Theale Parish Council to make a conditional decision to release the land required, subject to a planning consent being achieved to convert the 2.2 acres (as referred to above) into replacement playing field land; at present the land is a cultivated agricultural field.  Theale Parish Council were not comfortable with a conditional decision and asked to wait until planning permission for replacement land had been achieved.  Permission was granted in July 2017 and WBC has been awaiting a parish council decision since then.

    You can see a map showing the propose school site and replacement land here: pdf icon New Theale Primary School - Proposed site and replacement land [643kb]

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    Was there meaningful dialogue between WBC and Theale Parish Council over how to build a new school on a new site?

    Scrutiny of Oxford Architects' feasibility study to redevelop the school on the existing site demonstrated poor outcomes for both education and Theale residents and as a result it was agreed between Theale Parish Council and WBC in early 2014 that WBC should go away and look at building a new school on a new site. Please see the pdf icon emails dated 16 April from Theale Parish Council to WBC [236kb]

    This position was reinforced by subsequent dialogue and where Theale Parish Council reiterated the need to secure a new site for a new school, thereby delivering a long term solution to primary education in Theale. pdf icon See email from Theale Parish Council to WBC dated 24 March 2015. [185kb]. After confirmation that further funding towards a new school being built on a new site was agreed by the council's Capital Strategy Group 13 January 2015, WBC made contact with Theale Parish Council on the 2 February to arrange a meeting to table the council's findings on a new site.  A meeting date was agreed and WBC's findings were published to Theale Parish Council on 13 March 2015, pdf icon see email dated 13 March 2015 [179kb], prior to the meeting between the parish council and WBC Officers, which was held on the 23 March 2015. The information passed by WBC to Theale Parish Council on 13 March 2015, included:

    Out of the 11 sites identified, two sites were practically capable of accommodating a new school - Site Option 1 (Theale Parish Council's required site) and Site Option 4 (the only viable site once land cost is taken into account).  From the outset of discussions and reflecting information passed to Theale Parish Council on 13 March 2015, WBC made it clear to Theale Parish Council, that Site Option 1 was unaffordable as the land price equalled or exceeded the cost of building a new school.  In turn Theale Parish Council said that Site Option 4 was not capable of safely accommodating a new school. 

    During the course of April 2015, WBC and Theale Parish Council liaised over the need for a public presentation so that residents could understand the situation over site selection.  It was also agreed that both Site Option 1 and Site Option 4 should be independently assessed for site safety by external highways consultants.  In order for any survey to take into account specific parish council concerns, WBC and Theale Parish Council representatives met in Theale on 29 April 2015 in order to walk the highway in and around both sites, and for those concerns to be passed to the independent consultants for consideration. 

    The independent Highways report found both sites were capable of safely taking a new school and neither site was seen as more or less appropriate from a safety point of view.  This report was passed to Theale Parish Council on 19 May 2015 and prior to a public presentation (by agreement between the parties the report was made public via Theale Parish Council on 25 June). During May 2015, further dialogue took place over the need for a public presentation culminating in a meeting between WBC and Theale Parish Council representatives on 22 May 2015 to discuss the format of the public meeting. The public presentation was held in the Village Hall on 5 June 2015. pdf icon View the presentation made at the public meeting [1Mb]. All site and design matters were covered in detail and the public could put questions to WBC officers. WBC made clear at the public meeting that only the NSPF site was viable for a new school.  The meeting was chaired by the local MP who, at the end of the meeting, tasked WBC to provide summary detail about the 11 sites discussed in the presentation, to confirm the education catchment area and to provide information about 'Hope Value' and how that affects the value of land used for agriculture, but priced in the context of development potential.  Similarly Theale Parish Council were tasked with confirming the decision making process to release the land required for the school. WBC published the required information on 17 June 2015 to both Theale Parish Council and the Parliamentary Office of Mr Alok Sharma MP. These documents can be seen below:

    Highway safety matters and location continued to be discussed during 2015, culminating in two meetings between the parish council and WBC officers (both meetings chaired by WBC's CEO) on the 4 November 2015 and 21 December 2015.  The independent highways consultant then made a safety presentation to the parish council and local MP on the 29 January 2016.  There was detailed discussion around arrival and pick up in terms of new school proposals which led to a site visit to view a new 'kiss and drop' at Oldfield School, Maidenhead, attended by WBC and Theale Parish Council representatives. WBC then maintained detailed dialogue with the parish council covering discussions on extra highways interventions, beyond those required by WBC Highways, and the issue of replacement playing field land on existing agricultural land.

    The issue of replacement recreational land emerged in October 2015 and became a formalised point of negotiation at the meeting between Theale Parish Council and WBC 4 November 2015, chaired by WBC's CEO. Replacement land dialogue continued in 2016 culminating in Theale Parish Council writing to WBC on 5 May 2016, setting out conditions for land release for a new school, but which were conditions not in the gift of WBC to agree to; WBC confirmed this position in writing. Dialogue continued and where Theale Parish Council took responsibility for negotiations with the Englefield Estate to seek replacement land and new longer leases terms on all future recreational land - both existing (less land for new school) and replacement land.  On the 16 December 2016 the Englefield Estate set out in writing to Theale Parish Council their initial proposals for new longer leases on all remaining lease land and proposed replacement land, the start date of new longer leases being the date upon which the Parish Council releases land for the new school on NSPF. 

    In parallel with these negotiations, WBC finalised designs for the new school and submitted them to WBC Planning at risk and similarly started working up design proposals for the replacement recreational / playing field land - again at risk. As part of that process WBC put in an application to the Speed Limit Review Panel (including police representation) on behalf of Theale Parish Council, requesting consideration for a 20mph speed zone on Englefield Road.  There was also extensive correspondence about a zebra crossing and detailed explanations as to why WBC Highways would not support the proposal and that their position was final and set out in the strongest terms. See question: It is advised a Zebra crossing will not be adopted as there are strict guidelines governing the installation of such features. Can these guidelines be overruled? The Speed Limit Review Panel met on 25 October 2016 and was attended by WBC officers (on behalf of Theale Parish Council) and by the Clerk to Theale Parish Council.  Design proposals over the layout of the replacement land were also at this time drawn up in detailed consultation with the parish council and these proposals were formally reviewed along with extra highways measures at a meeting between Theale Parish Council and WBC on 9 December 2016; the meeting was chaired by the local MP.  At that meeting, WBC were asked to make adjustments to the extra highways proposals and replacement land layout (the latter prior to planning submission).  All revised plans and drawings were passed to Theale Parish Council on the 5 January 2017.  WBC achieved planning consent for the new school 13 July 2016; the consent was passed to the Secretary of State to test whether the SoS wished to call it in.

    During the rest of 2017 dialogue between the parties covered, in summary, the following:

    3 February 2017: Correspondence between Theale Parish Council and WBC Property Services to agree route of new footpath across the Recreation Ground and to confirm when 2 acre planning application would go in.  The Theale Parish Council Clerk confirms in writing that parish councillor concerns over the replacement land application are covered off bar fine detail.

    17 to 22 February 2017: Further correspondence between WBC Property Services and the Theale Parish Council Clerk over details covering unauthorized access onto replacement playing field land (should it achieve planning permission) and smaller issues over proposed footpath from Play Platt to the new school.

    22 February 2017: In order to address WBC Planning concerns over replacement land application Englefield Estate increase the replacement land offer to 2.2 acres. See pdf icon Total available open public space should the new school be built. [643kb]

    3 March to 10 March 2017:  Further correspondence between WBC Property Services and the Theale Parish Council Clerk over fine details concerning the replacement playing field application. Also WBC suggests a timeline for Theale Parish Council to meet to take a vote on whether to release land required for the new school.

    10 March 2017: WBC asks Theale Parish Council to consider making a conditional decision to release the land for the new school whereby actual release of land will be triggered by the replacement playing field land application achieving a planning consent.

    9 May 2017: WBC repeats the request for Theale Parish Council to make a conditional decision.

    12 May 2017: Theale Parish Council confirms they will make a decision to release the land after the replacement playing field / replacement land application achieves planning permission.

    4 August 2017: WBC confirms that the replacement playing field application has planning permission. In the light of this consent, WBC asked Theale Parish Council to make a decision on land release as soon as possible. Theale Parish Council asks that a decision be delayed until after the return of councillors from summer leave

    20 September 2017: WBC's CEO writes to Theale Parish Council asking for an urgent decision on land release.

    19 December 2017: WBC receives in the post letter from Theale Parish Council dated 30 November 2017 questioning WBC about 'Best Price'.

    3 January 2018: WBC's CEO writes to Theale Parish Council setting a deadline for a decision on land release.

    4 January 2018: WBC issues a press release announcing the above deadline. General correspondence thereafter between WBC and Theale Parish Council, resulting in the arrangement of a meeting between Theale Parish Council and WBC for 23 January 2018.

    23 January 2018:  Meeting between Theale Parish Council and WBC and where it is agreed that a vote will be held within Theale community to see if a Parish Poll should be taken before Theale Parish Council take a decision on land release. 

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    Is the replacement land suitable for playing fields and how will four pitches be marked up on the remaining 8 acres of the NSPF?

    See question: Would the proposals result in fewer and/or smaller football pitches?

    Planning permission for the replacement land as a recreational space has been granted. In addition, WBC has agreed to:

    • Move the electricity pole from the site of the new playing field
    • Replace (on a like-for-like basis) the plasti-crete to protect the grass from vehicle movements within the 2.2 acre site or at the northern end of the preferred land - whichever is preferred by Theale Parish Council
    • Make a £5,000 contribution towards replacing the existing community floodlighting the Recreation Ground
    • Re-mark playing field pitches on the remaining eight acres of North Street playing fields*
    • Provide two new 1.2m wide tarmac footpaths - one connecting Play Platt to the north side of the new school and the other connecting the existing public footpath and existing school site to the path leading to the village surgery
    • Pay all of Theale Parish Council's legal costs in respect of land release, securing new leases from the Englefield Estate and all matters relating to the new school

    *Since the community drop in session on Wednesday 7 March 2018 concern has been raised about re-marking up a pitch adjacent to Trafalgar Court, Play Platt, the proximity of an electricity pole in the North East corner of NSPF (and how that might effect marking up a possible fourth pitch in the North East corner of NSPF) and who surveyed the NSPF to confirm its continued suitability for football.

    Trafalgar Court

    The re-development of the Trafalgar Court site should not prevent the continued use of a pre-existing pitch area. As a belt and braces measure, WBC has sought guidance from Berks and Bucks FA; their initial comment was that new development should not hinder a pre-existing sports/recreational use and especially if sport activities generally are reasonably managed, that the travel of sport is parallel to housing and in the case of football the 3m run off distance is maintained between the pitch and any other boundary. When final advice is sent back to WBC this will be posted on the website.

    Electricity Pole

    The proposed school development, if it goes ahead, will leave 8 useable acres of the NSPF. Theale Parish Council has expressed a desire to have an area with as much practical use as possible including the possibility of marking up 4 pitches on the remaining 8 acres. This has been explored and was last looked at with Theale Parish Council on 8 June 2017 - pdf icon please see email correspondence between Theale Parish Council and WBC [438kb].  The pdf icon annotated Google Earth image [105kb] illustrates how pitches might be moved around.  The original assumption by Theale Parish Council was that two pitches would be lost to development, but only one pitch will be lost. Future proposals could involve a pitch being marked up (by WBC) in the North East corner of NSPF.  In the North East corner of NSPF there is an electricity pole which it has been presumed will not interfere with a possible fourth pitch should the parish council wish to mark one up in this area. This presumption was queried at the drop-in session. A desktop review, followed by another site visit on Monday 12 March, reconfirms the pole will be well beyond the FA recommended 3m run-off distance from the rear of any pitch should it be marked up and thus will not prevent play. Ultimately the pole can easily be moved as will be the case with the pole being moved out of the replacement playing field area immediately North of NSPF. Four pitches, the same size as the three pitches marked up now on the NSPF, can be marked up on the remaining 8 acres of the NSPF without shared 3m run-offs. The FA will accept shared runoffs between pitches where space is tight; that is not the case with the NSPF. These four pitches do not include the new pitch (U15/16 11 v 11) that can be marked on the replacement 2.2 acres secured immediately North of the NSPF.

    Suitability of the NSPF for football

    Ref a formal survey to confirm the suitability of the NSPF for continued sports use/football - this is unnecessary and would only become an issue if players started to sustain injuries otherwise not experienced before, for example; cuts through flints migrating up to the playing surface. The present conditions have existed for a long time and to date suitability has not been questioned.

    pdf icon Total available open public space should the new school be built. [643kb]

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    Does the lease proposal represent best value for the parish council?

    It is for Theale Parish Council to decide whether to accept the replacement land and improved lease terms. Please see the pdf icon Englefield Estate offer emails [81kb]. Should the land be released, the Theale community will be left with 22 acres of recreational land north and south of Englefield Road, all of this land on an improved, longer lease and the provision of a brand new school with capacity to expand in the years ahead. This would be instead of the existing school and 25 acres of recreational land on existing lease terms. WBC believes this to be a good opportunity for the people of Theale.

    You can see a map showing the propose school site and replacement land here: pdf icon New Theale Primary School - Proposed site and replacement land [643kb]

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    Why isn't a compulsory purchase order sought for the land?

    WBC is no longer considering a compulsory purchase of the site. This could take several years to complete through the legal system and at a considerable cost to the taxpayer. At the same time, the need for more primary school spaces becomes more acute. The existing school cannot continue to admit 45 new pupils each year with a reliance on temporary accommodation for its pupils.

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    What about road safety at North Street Playing Fields?

    An independent safety assessment was commissioned and found the North Street Playing Fields was a suitable site for a school. Our Highways Team have made the following recommendations and these will be implemented should a new school be built:

    • Pavement lighting will be installed outside the new school
    • New zig-zags to denote no parking or stopping at any time
    • A new 2m wide pavement will be created on the south side of Englefield Road - this will run from the village surgery to the start of the 30mph zone near the village hall
    • The existing pavement on the north side of Englefield Road, where it fronts the proposed site of the new school, will be widened to 2m
    • The 30mph zone will be extended from the pinch point opposite the village hall to the junction of North Street/Englefield Road
    • A raised table (a raised section of road) near to the village hall to act as an informal pedestrian crossing

    The new school - including all new highways measures - will be independently reviewed after occupation to ensure safe and efficient functionality. Should any further measures be required WBC will have to comply within a specified timescale.

    In addition to these measures Theale Parish Council asked for a 20mph speed limit in the area. Although this was felt unnecessary by the WBC Highways Team, it was referred to a Speed Limit Review Panel. This was held in October 2016 and was attended by the Clerk of Theale Parish Council. A formal 20mph zone was not agreed but traffic calming measures will be introduced to help reduce traffic speeds to around 20mph during key school hours. This includes:

    • Flashing 20mph signs at either end of Englefield Road
    • Installing of two further raised tables (raised sections of roads) on Englefield Road near to the proposed entrance/exits to the school
    • A new pinch point to mark the beginning of the new 30mph zone west of the junction of Englefield Road and North Street
    • 'Wig-wag' flashing warning lights on Englefield Road near the entrance to the new school and which will be operational during key school hours

    Three further requests from Theale Parish Council were considered and found to be either unsuitable or unnecessary.

    Zebra Crossings

    A request for a zebra crossing has not been adopted as there are strict guidelines governing the installation of zebra crossings. A combination of existing road usage, future usage associated with the new school and related pedestrians, would not generate the traffic and pedestrian volumes that would make a zebra crossing a helpful safety feature.

    Traffic volume, speeds and vehicle types were independently monitored and recorded 24/7 for a week along Englefield Road. The data reinforced the position that a zebra crossing cannot be supported by WBC Highways who hold total liability for any highways decision.

    Our Highways Team are satisfied with the safety of present proposals based on an informal crossing on Englefield Road where:

    • Traffic speeds will be controlled
    • Crossing point will be via a raised table adjacent to a traffic pinch point
    • Children and parents already safely cross Englefield Road without a zebra crossing to walk to the present school

    See question: It is advised a Zebra crossing will not be adopted as there are strict guidelines governing the installation of such features. Can these guidelines be overruled?

    Yellow Lines on Play Platt

    Theale Parish Council believe children being driven to school, will cause parents to park in Play Platt and then walk from there along the new footpath from Play Platt to the new school along the boundary of the North Street playing fields. Highways believe few individuals will partially drive, park up and then walk to the new school.

    A combination of the above and that yellow lines will unnecessarily disadvantage existing Play Platt residents, Highways will not agree to yellow lines.

    Highways are prepared to reconsider the matter should parking up during school pick and drop off times prove a genuine future nuisance.

    WBC have committed to providing new footpaths across open space which are not a requirement of the Highway Authority and were not specifically requested by the Parish Council. (Please note that on the attached plan the route of the footpath from the existing school site to behind the Village

    Pavement widening on North side of Englefield Road opposite the Recreation Ground

    To widen the existing northern pavement along Englefield Road would require widening the whole road or acquiring sections of individual front gardens. Both measures are disproportionate to the number of people such a pavement would serve and WBC Highways view this as wholly unnecessary and where there is a safe and close by alternative for pedestrians and children to take up.

    • Parents walking children to school from south of Englefield Road will do so via the new 2m wide footpath running from the village surgery to the proposed informal crossing opposite the pedestrian access to the new school
    • Parents walking their children from north and north east Theale will come via Play Platt, through the existing pedestrian access onto the North Street playing fields and then along a new tarmac footpath to be built from Play Platt down to the entrance to the new school
    • Parents and children living in the houses immediately off the north carriageway of Englefield Road can either use the existing northern pavement on Englefield Road or can cross over Englefield Road by the Village Surgery and use the new 2m wide pavement to be provided heading west to the new school

    Road safety is also a consideration in the planning process.  The fact that planning permission has been granted for the school illustrates that the Planning Authority, having consulted with Highways, were satisfied that any concerns relating to road safety could be addressed by suitable conditions such as those outlined above.

    pdf icon See our map of all Highway Measures including footpaths. [705kb]

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    If the project goes ahead, who will carry out the independent highways review at NSPF?

    WBC Highways are obliged to follow a highly regularised process under Section 278 of the Highways Act (1980), where the developer (here WBC Education) will inform the Highway Authority that works are completed which will automatically trigger the appointment of fully independent highways engineers to carry out a Stage 3 inspection of works. If those inspections demonstrate deficiencies in delivered specified works or works delivered to specification are insufficient to reasonably accommodate safely traffic and pedestrian highway users, remedial works will be ordered under Section 278 and which which the developer will be obliged to deliver. The independent highways engineers will comply with all national regulations, apply them as such and will not deviate from the regardless of cost consequences to the developer.

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    It is advised a Zebra crossing will not be adopted as there are strict guidelines governing the installation of such features. Can these guidelines be overruled?

    These guidelines cannot be overruled by those involved in delivering the new school. WBC Highways holds all liability for designs and performance and they are not prepared to support a new zebra crossing which is not seen as a helpful highways intervention in this instance. Please see pdf icon email from WBC to Theale Parish Council reference liability dated 25 January 2017 [239kb] and the two related documents:

    See question: What about road safety at North Street Playing Fields?

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    Will this see the loss of open space in Theale and how great will that loss be?

    Under the new scheme there would be 10 acres of land at North Street playing fields (eight retained acres plus two new acres) as well as a brand new school, rather than 13 acres of playing fields. See question: Is the replacement land suitable for playing fields?

    pdf icon Total available open public space should the new school be built. [643kb]

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    Open space in Theale

    For the school to go ahead it requires the use of five acres of land currently leased by the Englefield Estate to Theale Parish Council. The Englefield Estate has agreed to make the land available subject to Theale Parish Council relinquishing its lease. It has also offered another two acres for lease as a replacement. Although this will see a small reduction in open space to enable the new school to go ahead we believe the benefits from the new school outweigh the loss of open space, and the space will be secured for around an additional 15 years.

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    What about the footpath near to the village hall?

    Theale Parish Council has sought assurance that the project is able to secure land required to deliver a new pavement along the southern carriageway of Englefield Road and outside of the Village Hall.

    Features on the ground mirror the registration of where Highway Authority land starts (see Adopted Highway Plan). Existing registration of Highways' land dates back to 1983. Even where registration and features on the ground do not align, powers vested in the Highway Authority allow the Highway Authority to make highway changes on land which is clearly outside of a defined boundary and can be seen to be highway verge; here the boundary is the chain link fence. Land outside the chain link fence provides all the land required to deliver new infrastructure. The legal powers of the Highway Authority to enact change on land within the adopted highway has not been challenged.

    The Village Hall trustees are aware that the proposed footpath behind The Village Hall is no longer needed. As a tidying up exercise Trustees have requested the Highways Measures plan be amended. Technically this is not necessary since the footpaths fall outside of the planning redline and are not a mandatory provision under the planning consent; however, WBC remains committed to providing the footpaths should they be required. Drawings will be amended should the project restart.

    pdf icon See our map of all Highway Measures including footpaths. [705kb]

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    What is a Parish Poll?

    A Parish Poll is an opportunity for a community to have its say on a local issue. Much like a referendum, a question will be asked which residents can answer yes or no to. The result is advisory rather than legally binding.

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    If there is no new school does that mean no new housing?

    Nationally there is a shortage of homes and West Berkshire, like all districts, is required to help deliver new homes. Each year we need to build around 525 houses and a housing site allocations plan which sets out where these will be built. This includes housing in the Theale area. We are taking proactive steps to ensure education is not compromised from new housing.  This project is not the cause of new housing. New housing will be built regardless of whether we build the new school or not. However, it will mean an increase in traffic as parents travel further to other schools in the area.

    Specifically in Theale, anticipated pupil numbers arising from known future new housing in Theale Primary School's catchment area are expected to total 126 people -which equates to 18 pupils per year group.

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    What plans do you have for the existing school site?

    With limited available land assets within its ownership, the priority for WBC is to ensure its land helps to deliver operational services and the feasibility for future council use is being explored.

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    Will there be enough parking at the new site?

    Yes, and the five acre site retains the expansion capacity required to deliver more spaces once the school expands to 2FE (60 places a year).

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    Would the proposals result in fewer and/or smaller football pitches?

    To date Theale Parish Council has only ever marked four pitches. Four pitches can still be marked up on the retained eight acres and another pitch marked up on the new two acres. If it so wished Theale Parish Council will in future be able to mark up more pitches than they do now. This provision will stand in addition to a new school which for the first time will have their own dedicated playing fields.

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