A NEW school is set to be built near a notorious crossroads where traffic congestion is already stretched to ‘breaking point’.
Two sites – both on Broadway, Kingstone – were identified as preferred options for the 900-pupil secondary school, called Trinity Academy, but the former Broadway Recreation Ground has been settled on.
It is due to open as early as next year and has been approved by the Department for Education after a successful bid was made by Halifax-based Trinity Multi-Academy Trust (MAT).
According to a Barnsley Council notice, it is proposed that the local authority will relinquish its freehold interest in the site to allow the Secretary for State, Housing and Local Government to effectively re-allocate the land’s use in order for the school to be built.
However, ’significant concerns’ have been raised because of its location, which is near a planned new one-way road system at Penny Pie Park and the existing Horizon Community College.
Coun Peter Fielding, who represents the Dodworth ward, told the Chronicle: “It appears the current intention is to put the new 900-place secondary school that Barnsley needs on the Broadway playing fields.
“While it is important that children in the town have enough secondary school places to meet the growing demand and I welcome their provision, it is important that any new school is built in the best place for those students and for the town and its infrastructure.
“We are told that 900 new secondary school places are needed for the central area of Barnsley, encompassing a wide area of the town, so it is vital that we do not make the same mistakes as were made when the site for Horizon Community College was chosen in the face of strong public opposition just ten years ago.
“The subsequent traffic congestion from that decision to put 2,300 students in an already busy and polluted area has resulted the loss of Penny Pie Park.
“I and many residents are therefore understandably concerned that it appears that there is now an intention to locate a new school just round the corner on Broadway, in an area with numerous schools already, leading to further peak time traffic congestion and the loss of a significant amount of public green space.
“This in an area that has already lost Penny Pie Park and is about to lose 140 hectares of green belt on a site designated as MU1 and the playing fields at South Road in nearby Dodworth.
“The school is due to open in 2021 can you imagine the chaos there would be for traffic in the coming two years when there’s that, Horizon and of course the new road to contend with?”
A government body, LocatEd, has identified Broadway as the preferred site for the school after looking at a ‘number of sites across Barnsley’ and is now negotiating with the council to acquire the site for a ‘nominal sum of £1’.
The free faith school will specialise in maths and science, supported by the Church of England Diocese of Leeds, catering for 11 to 16-year-olds.
“The findings of the search by LocatEd should be made public so we can see why other sites were deemed unsuitable when this one has such obvious problems,” Coun Fielding added.
“We don’t know how much work has been done on traffic modelling to accommodate such a school, as the school was not included during the design for the Penny Pie Park gyratory.
“Barnsley Council also need to be clear with the public as to whether they support locating the school on this site and are happy to provide the land for it, or have a different preferred option.
“This is a vital infrastructure decision for Barnsley and we need to get it right, so let’s put all the information in the public domain so residents can have a say and be listened to this time.”
The public can comment on the plan until March 14.