The Reach Free School will inevitably outgrow its current temporary home and therefore a larger permanent location is required. A considerable amount of work over the last two years has taken place to ensure that a site large enough to accommodate the school is found. Although one can never be 100%, all the correct processes have been followed to ensure it is as certain as it possibly can be. The Education Funding Agency (EFA) has exchanged contracts with the owners of the Long Lane site, with completion due once planning permission has been agreed. The EFA will, in turn, lease the land to The Reach Free School on a long-term peppercorn lease.
We will remain in the Tolpits Lane building for the 2016/17 academic year. A planning application will be submitted once the procurement process has been completed and building work will commence shortly after this.
The entire Long Lane site is just over 45 acres, with around half of this being allocated for The Reach Free School. The remainder of the site will be designated for educational use, but is likely to remain as farmland.
Detailed plans are currently being drawn up and will be available for viewing once the procurement process has been completed. The current plan is for the school to be a two-storey building in keeping with surrounding properties.
In keeping with its community ethos, the school is committed to remaining smaller than average and has no current plans to increase from a four-form entry school. However, across the South West Hertfordshire area there is continued demand for school places and this is likely to remain for the foreseeable future. If there is demand for additional school places in the area, then the school will consult with all stakeholders about increasing in size.
The Reach Free School has demonstrated that the Tolpits Lane site can be used for education provision and would like to see this continue, however this depends on an education provider coming forward to take on the site and would be a decision for the owner of the building to make.
How will the transition from the temporary Tolpits Lane site to the Long Lane permanent site be managed?
Schools are often treasure troves with numerous cubby holes where long forgotten resources are kept. Being new, this is not the case with The Reach Free School and we are always mindful of the fact that this is only a temporary home for the school. That said, we will begin the process of moving once the permanent build, enters its final stages of completion, bringing pupils and staff up to speed on the layout of the school throughout this period.
Will the move to the Long Lane permanent site change the admissions policy of The Reach Free School (e.g. the catchment area)?
For the first cohort of pupils (ie. those beginning secondary school in September 2016) it will remain as it currently is, with the current central point of the Mill End Sports and Social Club. Once the school is open we will consult with stakeholders about changing the admissions point to the entrance of the school. Should there be no significant objections, then it will then take effect from September 2018.
The school will work with its existing transport provider to ensure that pupils have readily available access to the new site of the school.
The school will be actively working with local providers to ensure that the facilities are used for the benefit of the local community. This is likely to be in the form of sports clubs and performing arts groups using the facilities outside of normal school hours.
There is scope within the entire site (ie. outside of the boundaries of The Reach Free School) for additional education provision. However the exact shape of form of these has not been decided, with The Reach Free School providing sufficient local secondary provision, and available capacity within existing primary schools for the foreseeable future.
What will happen to the land purchased by the EFA but not allocated for school purposes – for example, will it be used for housing?
The entire site will be allocated for educational use (if required), but outside the boundaries of The Reach Free School it is likely to remain as farmland for the foreseeable future.
A full survey, undertaken by Hertfordshire Highways, will be carried out and there are likely to be some minor changes to the road near the entrance to the school. The exact plans will be clearly outlined in the planning application to Three Rivers District Council.
The school will consult with all stakeholders throughout the coming months and information evenings will be held to ensure that all plans are communicated.