Work on a new sixth form centre at Stowupland High School has recently completed thanks to an allocation of £2.4m by Mid Suffolk District Council.
Construction began last Spring, after councillors approved the school’s bid for £2,446,575 in District Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), collected from developers when they build new properties in the district to help infrastructure to keep pace with growth.
Suffolk County Council also provided £533K in funding and has collaborated with the John Milton Academy Trust, Mid Suffolk District Council, and design and property consultants Concertus on the new state-of-the-art sixth form centre.
Following the completion of works earlier this month, the existing sixth form will now relocate from the main school building into the new space. This will create 140 additional school places in total, consisting of 15 new sixth form places (from 185 to 200) and a further 125 high school places (from 925 to 1,050).
When not in use by the school, the new building will be made available for the wider community, with a community user agreement enabling a vast range of clubs and organisations to benefit from the ultra-modern facilities.
There have also been significant improvement works to site access by car and school bus, including a new parking area for seven coaches and a 57-space car park, which exceeds the requirement set by Suffolk Parking Standards. A dedicated pupil drop-off area will be implemented to help reduce traffic congestion elsewhere in the village at peak times.
Additional cycle parking and the installation of a footpath will encourage all pupils to use sustainable transport options where possible – meeting the council’s ongoing ambition to address climate change.
Cllr David Burn, Mid Suffolk District Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, said: “It’s great news that work on this exciting project has completed in time for pupils returning to school in early March. The new building is a fantastic asset for Stowupland, and I’m confident that the wider community will benefit from use of this state-of-the art facility for many years to come.
“This is the first CIL funded high school expansion since the levy was introduced and our significant investment demonstrates our council’s commitment to supporting local infrastructure in key housing growth areas.
“The project also illustrates the value of working collaboratively with public sector partners to achieve bright and healthy futures for our communities, and I would like to thank all those involved in making it such a success.”
Cllr Mary Evans, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills at Suffolk County Council, commented: “I am delighted that the new sixth form centre is now complete and ready to welcome pupils when they are able to return to school. The new centre will provide 140 new much needed school places in the area and the introduction of the footpath will also allow more pupils to travel to school in a sustainable way. I would like to thank everyone who has helped to deliver this project.”
Karen Grimes, Chief Executive of the John Milton Academy Trust said: “We have always been very proud of the achievements of our post-16 students and the new block provides a superb environment for Year 12 and Year 13 learners. It is also a wonderful community facility and we are really excited to be working in partnership with the University of Suffolk to deliver enrichment activities throughout the year. Our community user agreement will enable a vast range of clubs and organisations to benefit from these state-of-the-art facilities.
“With schools set to emerge from lockdown on March 8, completion of the sixth form block couldn’t have come at a better time. We are really looking forward to an official opening ceremony in the summer when we can celebrate with the whole community.
“Mid Suffolk District Council has been extremely supportive throughout this project.”
Ian Barber, Senior Project Manager at Concertus commented: “The new sixth form centre will create a modern learning environment providing four new functional areas. The new space consists of a specially designed media suite, a high performing arts studio, a common room and a food technology room. Concertus provided multi-disciplinary design services whilst working collaboratively with the main contractor S.E.H French to deliver this exciting new facility. The new centre will not only benefit the school, but the local community in the years to come. The successful completion of this project is testament to all the hard work of those involved”.
In addition to Stowupland High School securing funding last year, Bramford and Claydon Primary Schools were also successful in their District CIL bids of £645,593 and £499,421 for expansion works to facilitate extra school places.
District CIL is income retained by the district council to spend on infrastructure to support development. This funding must be applied for and decisions on significant bids are taken by Cabinet.