New schools needed to avoid Morley places crisis

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Morley will need at least one new secondary school and two new primary schools to avoid a crisis over pupil numbers - that’s the stark warning from one of the town’s councillors.

Worries were raised about the number of available school places when education chiefs and Morley Borough Independent councillors met to discuss plans to build 5,000 new homes in the Greater Morley area under the Leeds Local Development Framework plan.

Councillors were told that by 2016 all primary and secondary schools will be full - but it was also suggested the new housing figures will generate 1,250 primary school children and over 500 children in the secondary sector.

Coun Robert Finnigan said: “This demand cannot be accommodated in the schools we presently have, we need at least two new primary schools and a new secondary school. This will cost well over £20 million and that sort of cash is not available.

“This shows the present development surge is not sustainable and communities will suffer.”

Education chiefs told councillors they were looking at additional ways of coping with the demand, including the use of temporary classrooms.

The proposed 5,000 new houses are part of the Leeds City Council’s Local Development Framework (LDF).

Leeds City Council’s children’s services deputy director Paul Brennan said: “The construction of a new £5.5m building at Morley Newlands Primary School is already underway which will provide 630 places for children aged three to 11 and is due to be completed later this year.”

Housing developers are expected to help fund any extra school places required as a result of new local housing projects and the council has said it will work closely with those developers to ensure any increased demand is met.

But education chiefs told the MBI councillors the money developers contribute towards education costs will not cover the additional new schools needed.

Mr Brennan stressed: “Ensuring we have enough school places for all children and young people is a high priority in Leeds.

“We have been working hard to mitigate the impact of rising pupil numbers across the city.”

Concerns regarding the impact an influx of new residents could have on the area have been raised previously.

A campaign was set up last year in an attempt to get people to oppose the LDF plans and local residents’ groups are still trying to cut down the number of new builds without more support for the infrastructure of the area.

Coun Finnigan said he believed the proposed new houses would overwhelm local schools.

“This is one of the major reasons we campaign against the figure within the LDF, unless these figures are substantially reduced we will have a crisis across all our local schools,” he said.