A new secondary school looks set to open in Colchester in 2019 after outline plans were given the green light.
Essex County Council has already spent about £25 million creating 1,700 new school places in the Colchester area since 2013/14, but that investment is set to continue as the council seeks to ensure the area has the infrastructure it needs to grow.
It is anticipated Colchester will require about 16 extra classes per year group at secondary school level by 2025, with larger cohorts beginning to move through from primary to secondary school.
Expansion projects are already underway at Philip Morant School and The Stanway School while, under the latest proposals, a new 900-place secondary school would also be built on the former Alderman Blaxill School site in Paxman Avenue.
The project has now moved a step closer after an outline business case for the plans was approved by Essex County Council.
Subject to planning processes, it is now hoped demolition of the existing school buildings could start in September, with building work starting in February 2018 and being completed in advance of September 2019.
Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “Colchester continues to grow rapidly and it is important the area has the infrastructure it needs to support that growth.
“We have spent about £25 million creating 1,700 new school places in Colchester since 2013/14 and are committed to ensuring that investment continues in the years to come.
“We expect to see the number of children moving up from the area’s primary schools into its secondary schools increase dramatically from this September, creating the need for hundreds more places.
“The expansions at The Stanway School and Philip Morant School, together with a proposed free school in north Colchester and these plans for the former Alderman Blaxill site, will help ensure there are enough places to meet that demand.”
An academy trust has also submitted a free school application to provide a secondary school on the former Alderman Blaxill site, but the Department for Education is unlikely to make a decision on that until spring.
The council is therefore proceeding with its own project in the meantime due to the tight timescales for having the project complete by September 2019.