Two-year delay likely for planned Waterside school

Credit: Shutterstock.com/ RossHelen

Plans for a new multi-million pound school building in Leicester’s Waterside area have been put on hold due to serious ground condition issues.

Leicester City Council is planning to build a new primary school on disused council land off Fosse Road North.

However, detailed environmental surveys carried out last year uncovered significant ground contamination and extremely poor soil density on key parts of the site.

This means that the costs of remediating environmental damage to the land and making it safe for construction could add up to £5milllion of additional costs to the proposed £13million project.

As a result, the project has been temporarily suspended while further options for the new school are explored.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “While poor soil conditions aren’t unusual for a brownfield site of this nature, the extent of the contamination being uncovered here means that we face a real challenge before we even begin to build.

“We need to look hard at how we make this work. The location itself is perfect for a new school and we remain committed to the project.

“We will be looking again at our options for how we deliver this school, and what form that school might take, before we begin construction. We expect to be in a position to make a decision and announce plans later this summer.”

Plans for the new Waterside school would have effectively seen Fosse and Slater primary schools brought together and transferred into the new school. The legal framework governing school organisation required that one school close while the other expanded.

Legal notices are already in place to close Slater Primary School and expand Fosse Primary School. The council will now seek permission from the relevant authorities to postpone these until at least 2021.

Staff, governors and parents at both of the affected schools have been informed of the decision to delay construction of the new school.

Parents of children due to begin school in autumn 2019 have also been contacted to explain that they will be entitled to make a retrospective application to Slater Primary School from March. The school offers 23 places in its foundation year.

Around £13million of funding from the council’s Basic Need allocation has been earmarked for the Waterside school expansion project. This cash is provided by the Department for Education to enable councils to meet their statutory obligation to ensure that every child has access to a school place.

The proposed new school is part of a city council-led £100milllion investment programme that is helping to create thousands of new primary and secondary school places across the city.