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Victory Is Near! County Council & Woodlands Meed Governors Agree To Plans For A Completely New College

5th July 2018 | By Peter Chapman

There is light at the end of the tunnel for everyone involved with Woodlands Meed following a meeting between the school's governors and West Sussex County Council on Wedneday.

The meeting was arranged to discuss the findings of a feasability study conducted by Hampshire County Council on behalf of West Sussex where three potential solutions for the unfinished Woodlands Meed School site on Chanctonbury Road were explored.

Due to land having to be signed over to the Burgess Hill Academy, expanding the school site to incorporate Key stage 4&5 was going to prove very challenging.

Your days are numbered - The college site that may be demolished in a few years

Option one
was to bring the school and college sites together at Chanctonbury Road as originally planned, but this would have involved getting very creative with enlarging the current building on a drastically smaller footprint due to a loss of land to Burgess Hill Academy.

The second option
was to modernise the college building (formerly known as Newick House)

The third option
- and the one that has been agreed between the two parties - is to construct a completely new college building on the college's playing fields, then demolish the old building and turn that into the outdoor recreational area.

Not only will there be a whole new college but Woodlands Meed will also get a hydrotherapy pool and a Center for Inclusive Sport which will be a 4 court Sports Hall complete with specialist disabled facilities and equipment, such a facility will allow Woodlands Meed and WSCC to apply to Sport England for support and funding.

In a letter sent to parents and carers today, Head Teacher Adam Rowland and Head of Governors Marion Wilcock wrote:

The next step will be for this proposal to be formally approved by the WSCC Cabinet on 17th July and for it to be included in the Council's Capital Programme. We are aiming to be able to move pupils into the new building at some point in 2020. This is a very tight timescale, but we think with goodwill and co-operation from all parties, we should be able to achieve this.

Once approved, the parties will move to preparing a more detailed and costed design, which will take into account the Governors' proposals.

Parents, carers and staff will be consulted at this more detailed planning stage.

We look forward to notification that the proposal has been included in the Capital Programme and thank WSCC officers and their advisers for working with us to get this far."

Last week at the County Local Committee meeting held at the Martlets Hall - that was once again well attended by Woodlands Meed Campaigners - Cllr Richard Burrett - Cabinet member for Education and Skills, said he was determined to rectify things.

'One of the things that I am determined to do is that I am determined to do this properly. This has gone on for a long time.

There have been issues at Woodlands Meed for a long time, people have felt let down for a long time and we are determined to rectify that and we’re determined that we’re going to do it properly, and if that takes a little bit longer, then I hope you’ll all understand that it’s better to do it right and to get it right and to get the absolute best facilities for our children that we can, because obviously the children at Woodlands Meed are very special and deserve the best and that’s what I want to do as Cabinet member for them, but it may take a little bit longer than, you know, by the term.'

Deborah Myers, the Director for Education and Skills
is leaving her post in August, but vowed to get the project signed off before she departs. At the meeting last week, she told campaigners..

"..one of the things I want to do before I go – and I’ll be leaving around the 10th of August - one of the things I want to do before I go is to make sure that we have secured an agreement with the governors on which of the options will be selected and taken forward and I want to make sure that has gone to cabinet before I go, to get that signed off and approved, because I started this job in actual fact, my first engagement was with you all in my very first CLC, in what was it, 24/48 hours into my job? 

This isn’t my last engagement, but I want it to be the one that I manage to get signed off in addition to a whole raft of other things by the cabinet before I leave in mid-August."

Karen George - speaking on behalf of the Complete Woodlands Meed Campaign team - said:
"The Campaign Team were delighted to hear today that Governors and WSCC have unanimously agreed an option from the Feasibility Study for delivering our new college.

It's been a long uphill struggle campaigning WSCC to complete Woodlands Meed, but we're hopeful moving forward that won't be the case. We will continue to monitor progress and would like to thank all our supporters.

For more reaction, see the 'Complete Woodlands Meed' campaign team's Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/CompleteWM/

Spread the word, Woodlands Meed could soon be getting a completely new college

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What's your reaction to the news that Woodlands Meed could be getting a completely new college in a few years time?

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