A NEW 900-pupil secondary school is set to go ahead in Marston despite concerns being raised about its proposed location.
Yesterday Oxfordshire County Council‘s cabinet voted to sell off the Harlow Centre site to the Department for Education after hearing no other suitable site for the Swan School could be found.
The school is needed to cater for hundreds of new secondary pupils in Oxford.
It was originally intended to open in September 2017 but, as reported in the Oxford Mail earlier this month, it will not now open until September 2019.
The county council will also make a contribution of up to £2m towards it.
Speaking to cabinet the council’s director for children’s services Lucy Butler said: “This option brings money with it.
“Extending other schools would mean we would have to find the money.
“I understand the EFA has done an extensive search and this is the best site they have come up with.
“This feels like the best option but not without its difficulties and challenges.”
The Swan School will be a free school – independent from local authority control.
The Harlow Centre is home to Meadowbrook College pupil referral unit and some parts of the Oxfordshire Hospital School.
The need to find new accommodation for them means the Swan School will cost more than other schools of a similar size.
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith and Old Marston Parish Council had previously raised concerns about the Harlow Centre location.
Speaking at cabinet Oxford city councillor for the area Mary Clarkson said: “I believe this is the wrong site.
“Access to the site would be difficult and at peak times Marston Ferry Road, Headley Way and Marston Road are heavily congested.
“The extra traffic the school would being would be to the detriment of staff at the Headington hospitals.”
Ms Clarkson added that the site was only six hectares – half the Government’s recommended size.
The Swan School will be run by the River Learning Trust – an academy trust that also runs The Cherwell School and Wheatley Park School.
Cabinet voted to sell the site to the Government for £1 and contribute £2m towards the school’s construction on the condition the Education Secretary seals a funding agreement with the River Learning Trust.