Council agree £330,000 deal for land for new school car park
A PIECE of land – which was once part of one of Portishead's High Street farms – could be used as a new school car park as part of measures to help solve the town's crisis with lack of class places. North Somerset Council has negotiated with local businessman Ian Mathison to buy a piece of land behind his business at 119-121 High Street to turn it into a car park and drop off point for St Peter's Primary School in Hallets Way. The authority, which has agreed a purchase price of £330,000 for the land and former barn, cow shed and outbuilding, wants to use the site as a car park as part of plans to expand the school. Council officers are currently working with school leaders and governors on plans to expand the primary school to offer additional class places for this September. But as part of any expansion plans, new parking arrangements are needed following concerns from residents about the additional traffic the extra places could generate in the already congested Hallets Way. A planning application will now have to be submitted for the new car park and drop off point. Council education chiefs have been speaking with leaders at schools across the town to assess the possibility of expansion in a bid to meet a growing need for class places. North Somerset Council spokesman, Nick Yates, said: "With a view to starting a consultation around the expansion of St Peter's C of E Primary School we have been in negotiation with a local landowner to purchase a parcel of land to the south west of the site. "This work has been carried out 'at risk' to the council. "If the consultation goes through successfully, this land can be used as staff parking and a parents drop off for the school." Authority leaders are also currently negotiating with governors at St Joseph's Catholic school about the possibility of providing an additional reception class from this September. Schools in Portishead have already been expanded since 2010 but statistics have revealed that there will be a shortfall of 103 school primary spaces in the town by 2015. The council has earmarked £400,000 to help it come up with short term solutions to the lack of school places while more permanent measures are put in place. The move comes at the same time as the Village Quarter Parents Action Group has appointed educational visionary Marcus Orlovsky to drive forward plans to open a free school for up to 420 students by September 2014. If approved, funding for the free school would have to be sought from the Government and the new school could open by September 2014. If the free school plan gets the green light, it would be the first school of its kind to open in North Somerset.
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