Provision of primary school places in Reigate

Education consultation now closed

The education consultation regarding primary school provision in Reigate is closed. Surrey County Council's Cabinet will consider feedback from the consultation, alongside the viability of any solutions, at the next Cabinet meeting on 27 February 2024 to decide on the best option to take forward.

We have now published an analysis of the consultation responses alongside Cabinet papers in preparation for the meeting. These documents are available to view on the Cabinet Agenda web page.

Background

The council has a duty to ensure children have access to education that is safe, accessible, and fit for the future. The Department for Education has confirmed that the current Reigate Priory Junior School building is not in line with modern learning requirements and restricts any re-provision or redevelopment of a like-for-like school on the same site.

Therefore, earlier this year, Surrey County Council submitted a planning application to move Reigate Priory Junior School to a new site at Woodhatch Place, on Cockshot Hill, after assessing various locations in the area that could accommodate a new school. The application was not approved at that point, and some parents, carers and residents shared concerns about moving the school to the Woodhatch Place site.

As Reigate Priory Junior School in its current size cannot remain on the site in the long-term, Surrey County Council must consider all options available to maintain the required number of school places in the area. As a result, we recently published a consultation to hear resident views on the future of primary school provision in the Reigate area, including Reigate Priory Junior School.

Now the consultation period has ended, Surrey County Council's Cabinet will consider feedback from the consultation, alongside the viability of any solutions, to decide on the best option to take forward.

You can also follow updates via this community Facebook page.

Frequently asked questions

Last updated 16 January 2024. If you have any other questions, please email reigateprimaryschools@surreycc.gov.uk

You can read the full text of the speech given by Liz Mills, Surrey County Council's Director for Education and Lifelong Learning, under the question 'What was said at the public meeting at Reigate Priory Junior School on 6 December 2023?'

Why is it so challenging to re-provide the school on the existing site?

The heritage status of the Scheduled Monument and Grade I listed building, in the setting of a Grade II Registered Park and Garden makes modifications or building work extremely challenging and requires additional planning applications. Due to these designations, applied to preserve buildings that are of exceptional interest (only 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade I) any new proposals would have to meet much stricter design criteria than typical planning applications and be sensitive to the heritage status. In this case, the DfE have confirmed that, "We considered options for addressing the condition need at the current Priory Junior School site and our assessment was that planning and heritage requirements and other constraints meant that any development to the site would be challenging. We concluded that even if a deliverable solution were identified, it would be compromised and would not fully meet the school's long-term needs. The new accommodation will give children the best possible accommodation for their education."

Has Surrey County Council considered all hybrid proposals to allow Reigate Priory Junior School to be reconfigured on its current site, including parts of the Priory building?

We are clear that the building and its setting cannot be reasonably adapted to address the deficiency in spaces due to its heritage status and listing. Whilst the heritage designations of the Priory building pose significantly more challenges than most Education developments, there are numerous other factors that Surrey County Council is required to consider, such as pupil place planning (sufficiency), accommodation, including play space provision, health and safety, safeguarding, security, and inclusion and accessibility.

The existing building accommodation is severely constrained making it simply unviable to achieve a modern education environment. The building's heritage and listed status mean these constraints cannot be overcome.
The age and condition of the building also means it is not fully accessible for pupils with additional needs and disabilities. Therefore, there are barriers for the school to be fully inclusive.

There is a significant impact on the day to day running of the school due to several areas where the current building does not meet modern education standards set by the Department for Education (DfE):

  • Classrooms sizes are not sufficient.
  • The adjacent dining hall in the existing school is only 85m² and it should be 150m².
  • Insufficient daylighting to teaching spaces.
  • The existing school kitchen is significantly undersized. It is 25m² and a school of this size should have a 70m² kitchen.

Whilst the above list is not exhaustive, there are also two key areas of safety concern with the current site:

1. There is a Public Right of Way (PROW) through the school site, which splits the site in two, with buildings on either side. Attempts to have this closed or re-directed have failed. Reigate Priory Junior School previously tried to object to the PROW and have this closed. However, following a Planning Inspectorate review in 2015 of the definitive map modification order 2014 entitled 'The Surrey County Council Footpaths Numbers 632 and 633 (Reigate)' and associated planning permission for the gates (Reigate and Banstead Planning Reference P/08/01064/F), the Order was confirmed, and the school were subsequently required to comply with it and the respective planning conditions to maintain the PROW.

2. The school uses Priory Park, which is open to the public, as the sports pitches for the school. The school site sits on an area of land within Priory Park, which is used by the public. There is a low perimeter rail around some of the setting which poses potential safeguarding risk where staff supervision is needed to mitigate risks.

As with all schools there is a continuous need to ensure statutory compliance through regular assessment of health and safety and fire safety matters, and mitigate any risks identified in accordance with regulations. However, due to the age and condition of the building it is much more susceptible to such risks and therefore significant additional mitigations, including resources, are needed to meet the Authority's obligations than in comparison with a similar sized school in a more modern building. The heritage designation means it is not fully accessible for pupils with additional needs and disabilities as it is not capable of being adequately adapted throughout.

Furthermore, maintenance costs for Reigate Priory Junior School are 1,108% more than an equivalent size school, and consequently it is not value for money for the school to stay in the current building. The only way to achieve compliance with DfE standards would be by demolishing the building and re-providing it, but as it is a Scheduled Monument and a Grade I listed building in a Grade II listed parkland, there is no prospect of Historic England granting consent for demolition. We believe it would be impossible to leave the existing heritage building intact and provide a big enough new building within the site adjacent to the existing building, as such a proposal would not achieve planning consent.

Have any hybrid options been explored by the Department for Education?

This is the latest update we received in December 2023 from the Department for Education (DfE) regarding re-provision of Reigate Priory Junior School:

"We considered options for addressing the condition need at the current Priory Junior School site and our assessment was that planning and heritage requirements and other constraints meant that any development to the site would be challenging. We concluded that even if a deliverable solution were identified, it would be compromised and would not fully meet the school's long-term needs. The new accommodation will give children the best possible accommodation for their education.

To clarify, the DfE explored the hybrid option of complete new build, part new build/ part refurbished, retained, existing solution and concluded that this was not viable for the re-provision of a 5-form-entry (5FE) Junior School. The assessment was that planning and heritage requirements and other constraints meant that any development to the site would be challenging. This conclusion was arrived at following consultation with Reigate and Banstead Borough Council Planning and Conservation Officers, along with Historic England. The DfE scheme required a new 3-storey building to be provided on the site of the current 1950s Year 6 Block. The feedback from Reigate & Banstead Borough Council and Historic England was unequivocal in that a 3-storey building would not be acceptable. This led the DfE to conclude that in order to sustain Reigate Priory Junior School in its current 5FE configuration, re-provision on an alternative site is the best option and that even if a deliverable solution were identified, it would not fully meet the school's long-term needs."

What is the consultation about?

This is an education consultation about proposed changes to the provision of school places in the primary planning area of Reigate. The consultation is open to everyone and there may be impacts for people with children of primary school age, future parents, and businesses and residents living close to current Reigate schools.

The consultation directly impacts Reigate Priory Junior School as the school cannot remain as a 5FE Junior School on the current site for the long-term.

Why are you consulting?

The council has a duty to ensure that children have access to education that is safe, accessible, and fit for the future.

The Department for Education has confirmed that the current Reigate Priory Junior School building does not comply with design standards for schools in very material respects. The only way to achieve compliance would be by demolishing the building and re-providing it, but as it is a Scheduled Monument and a Grade I listed building in a Grade II listed parkland, there is no prospect of Historic England granting consent for demolition. It would be impossible to leave the existing heritage building intact and provide a big enough new building within the park adjacent to the existing building as that would not achieve planning consent.

Therefore, earlier this year, we submitted a planning application to move Reigate Priory Junior School to a new site at Woodhatch Place, on Cockshot Hill, after assessing various locations in the area that may accommodate a new school. The application was not approved at that point, and some parents, carers and residents shared concerns about moving the school to the Woodhatch Place site. Surrey County Council was given the option to re-submit the application but, following feedback from residents, instead took time to consider the best solution for the school and surrounding residents.

As Reigate Priory Junior School, in its current size, cannot remain on the site in the long-term, Surrey County Council must consider all options available to maintain the required number of school places in the area.

As a result, we are now publishing this consultation to hear resident views on the future of primary school provision in the Reigate area, including Reigate Priory Junior School.

How do I respond to the consultation and where can I find more information?

You can find all the consultation documents and fill in the online survey on the confidential consultation portal: complete the consultation survey.

We ask that views and suggestions are shared online via the consultation portal, where possible. If you have any questions, or if you would like a copy of the consultation document in another format, for example large print or braille, or another language, please email reigateprimaryschools@surreycc.gov.uk

You can also attend a public engagement meeting or drop in session where there will be opportunity for questions and answers. See details of these events above.

Will this be my only chance to have a say?

The education consultation is open to any member of the public and will run for eight weeks, starting on 27 November 2023 and it will close at 23.59 on 21 January 2024. This isn't a statutory consultation and we have decided to extend the submission window longer than a typical consultation of this type to allow more time over the winter school holidays.

After the consultation period has ended, Surrey County Council's Cabinet will consider feedback from the consultation, alongside the viability of any solutions, to decide on the best option to take forward. Any additional planning application(s) required will be considered separately and residents would also have chance to comment as per usual process at that point.

Are organisations allowed to respond to the consultation or just individuals?

Yes, any member of the public is allowed to respond to the consultation. We are encouraging all views.

Is the consultation outcome binding?

After the consultation period has ended, Surrey County Council's Cabinet will consider feedback from the consultation, alongside the viability of any solutions, to decide on the best option to take forward. Any additional planning application(s) required will be considered separately, as per usual process.

Why is the consultation about all Reigate school places and not just about Reigate Priory Junior School?

Although the DfE and Surrey County Council have deemed it unviable to bring the existing school up to modern standards, some residents have shared different views about moving the school to the Woodhatch Place site specifically.

We have taken time to listen and consider other viable options and we are now publishing a consultation to hear your views on the future of primary school provision in the Reigate area, including Reigate Priory Junior School.

I am a resident in Reigate but I don't have a pupil at any of the schools. Am I allowed to respond to the consultation?

Yes, any member of the public is allowed to respond to the consultation. We are encouraging all views.

I have a question about the consultation. How do I ask this question?

We ask that views and suggestions are shared online via the consultation portal, where possible. If you have any questions, or if you would like a copy of the consultation document in another format such as large print or braille, or another language, please email reigateprimaryschools@surreycc.gov.uk

What is the data collection process and decision criteria that will be followed as part of the consultation?

The online survey is published on Surrey Says which is an online engagement and consultation platform. Responders complete the online survey and the data is held securely. Officers will export this data and undertake analysis of responses, including a thematic analysis of all open-ended responses. Hard copy consultation response forms will be added to Surrey Says to ensure all responses are analysed together.

After the consultation period has ended, Surrey County Council's Cabinet will consider feedback from the consultation, alongside the viability of any solutions, to decide on the best option to take forward.

Please can you provide details on how the data will be examined, what the outputs will be and when will they be made public?

Using Surrey Says, Surrey County Council officers will analyse the information shared by responders to the online survey.

Officers will produce a consultation analysis report which will be published with the Cabinet Report prior to the meeting on 27 February 2024. The report will show quantitative data (the number of responses and selections) and qualitative data (thematic analysis of the comments).

Will the meeting on 27 February 2024 be held in public or behind closed doors?

This is a Surrey County Council Cabinet meeting, all of which are held in public. You can find more details on this web page about the time and location of the meeting.

Will the leaders of Reigate and Banstead Council be included in the Cabinet meeting as full members, or are you planning to have a public meeting with them before that date?

Surrey County Council Cabinet meetings consist of the Leader of Surrey County Council and Cabinet Members. The Leader and Cabinet meet in public to take decisions for which the County Council is responsible, in this case an education decision on primary school provision in Reigate. Reigate and Banstead Borough Council councillors are not part of that process but are able to attend like any member of the public. We are engaging with Reigate and Banstead Borough Council as part of the consultation process.

How will you ensure the data about the consultation is legitimate and that false inputs can be excluded?

We ask that individuals submit only one response. We are requesting half of the post code which will enable us to understand the general location of respondents however, this is not an exclusionary criterion. Respondents do not have to give their postcode if they don't wish to.

Surrey Says reports the IP address and highlights if there are multiple responses from the same IP address. The responses are not a voting system, and all responses are valid.

How will you know that all the responses to the consultation are genuine and not generated by computer or a chat bot?

Surrey Says reports the IP address for each response.

Is there a lower age limit for respondents to the consultation?

There is no age limit to responding to the consultation however we recognise that pupils in the schools may need help in responding. We will support schools to talk to pupils about the current consultation and gather views about what it means for children and young people.

How did you select who should respond to the consultation?

The consultation is open to all members of the public, there are no restrictions on who can respond.

Why can't the school stay on the current site?

Reigate Priory Junior School is currently located in the Reigate Priory building, a grade l listed property and scheduled monument, the grounds of which are part of the grade ll listed Reigate Priory Park and Garden. There is a significant impact on the day to day running of the school due to several areas where the current building does not meet modern education standards set by the Department for Education:

  • Classrooms sizes are not sufficient.
  • The existing school kitchen is significantly undersized. It is 25m² and a school of this size should have a 70m² kitchen.
  • The adjacent dining hall in the existing school is only 85m² and it should be 150m².

The building cannot be reasonably adapted to address the deficiency in spaces due to the heritage status and listing of the building.

There are also two key areas of safety concern with the current site:

  1. There is a public right of way through the school site, which splits the site in two, with buildings on either side.
  2. The school uses Priory Park, which is open to the public, as the sports pitches for the school. The school site sits on an area of land within Priory Park, which is used by the public. There is a low perimeter rail around some of the setting which poses potential safeguarding risk where staff supervision is needed to mitigate risks.

As with all schools there is a continuous need to ensure statutory compliance through regular assessment of health and safety and fire safety matters and mitigate any risks identified in accordance with regulations. However due to the age and condition of the building it is much more susceptible to such risks and therefore significant additional mitigations, including resources, are needed to meet this duty of care than in comparison with a similar sized school in a more modern building.

The age and condition of the building also means it is not fully accessible for pupils with additional needs and disabilities, and its heritage designation means it is not capable of being adequately adapted. Therefore there are barriers for the school to be fully inclusive.

Furthermore, maintenance costs for Reigate Priory Junior School are 1,108% more than an equivalent size school in a modern building, and consequently it is not value for money for the school to stay in the current building.

The only way to achieve compliance with Department for Education standards would be by demolishing the building and re-providing it, but as it is a Scheduled Monument and a Grade I listed building in a Grade II listed parkland, there is no prospect of Historic England granting consent for demolition. Similarly, it would be impossible to leave the existing heritage building intact and provide a big enough new building within the site adjacent to the existing building as such a proposal would not achieve planning consent.

What are the safeguarding challenges faced by the school and how are these different to schools in a modern building?

The school leaders continuously review and assess risks according to their safeguarding policy in the same way that all schools do. However, Reigate Priory Junior School faces more challenges to ensure children at the school continue to access education in a safe environment. Mitigations are in place to ensure safety from public use of the right of way through the school and potential risks from the public use of Priory Park.

As with all schools there is a continuous need to ensure statutory compliance through regular assessment of Health & Safety and Fire Safety matters and mitigate any risks identified in accordance with regulations. However due to the age and condition of the building it is much more susceptible to such risks and therefore significant additional mitigations, including resources, are needed to meet this Duty of Care than in comparison with a similar sized school in a more modern building.

The school leadership team work hard to ensure mitigations are in place and continue to be in place whilst the school remains in the building. Surrey County Council has committed to maintain facilities at the current school within the limitations of the existing building. A dedicated team is working with Reigate Priory Junior School.

If safeguarding is a key issue at the existing site, why can't the public right of way be closed to resolve this?

Reigate Priory Junior School previously tried to object to the public right of way and have this closed. However, following a Planning Inspectorate review in 2015, and associated planning permission for the gates, the Order was confirmed and the school was subsequently required to comply with it and the respective planning conditions to maintain the public right of way.

If Surrey County Council wanted the public right of way footpath to be re-routed as part of an overall plan to keep the school on the existing site, who is the decision-making authority?

Reigate Priory Junior School previously tried to object to the Public Right of Way (PROW) and have this closed. However, following a Planning Inspectorate review in 2015 of the definitive map modification order 2014 entitled 'The Surrey County Council Footpaths Numbers 632 and 633 (Reigate)' and associated planning permission for the gates (Reigate and Banstead Planning Reference P/08/01064/F), the Order was confirmed, and the school were subsequently required to comply with it and the respective planning conditions to maintain the PROW.

Surrey County Council's Countryside Access Service would normally consider any such application to amend a PROW.

If an application were made to re-route the footpath, what grounds would there be for objection?

As the public already have rights over the surrounding park, Surrey County Council understands that there is no alternative route that could be considered to divert the existing Public Right of Way (PROW) that dissects the school site. Diverting the existing PROW via the park, where existing rights exist, would constitute an application for extinguishment of the PROW. Therefore, a diversion application could not be considered.

How many safeguarding issues due to the public right of way at Reigate Priory Junior School have been forwarded to the Safeguarding team at Surey County Council?

The school leaders continuously review and assess risks to children according to their safeguarding policy and mitigate those additional risks to children at Reigate Priory Junior School posed by the public use of Priory Park and the right of way through the school.

How does the current building not comply with DfE Design Standards and what would it take to make compliant?

The DfE identified the significant condition need at Reigate Priory Junior School in June 2015 with a feasibility process following that, which considered all possible solutions to the condition need identified at the school, including refurbishment or additional developments on site. A wide range of surveys were undertaken as part of that process, alongside the development of a presentation to the planning and conservation officers at Reigate and Banstead Borough Council as well as representatives of Historic England, which was delivered via a planning pre-application meeting held on 9 October 2020.

This planning pre-application meeting effectively concluded that it would not be acceptable to develop the existing site due to the significant harm that would be caused to the designated heritage assets at Reigate Priory. The DfE's feasibility study concluded that the options for developing onsite would not meet the condition need as they were either not deliverable or not economically viable.

There is a significant impact on the day to day running of the school due to several areas where the current building does not meet modern education standards set by the Department for Education:

  • Classrooms sizes are not sufficient.
  • The existing school kitchen is significantly undersized. It is 25m² and a school of this size should have a 70m² kitchen.
  • The adjacent dining hall in the existing school is only 85m² and it should be 150m².

The building cannot be reasonably adapted to address the deficiency in spaces due to the heritage status and listing of the building.

There are also two key areas of safety concern with the current site:

  • There is a public right of way through the school site, which splits the site in two, with buildings on either side.
  • The school uses Priory Park, which is open to the public, as the sports pitches for the school. The school site sits on an area of land within Priory Park, which is used by the public. There is a low perimeter rail around some of the setting which poses potential safeguarding risk where staff supervision is needed to mitigate risks.

The age and condition of the building also means it is not fully accessible for pupils with additional needs and disabilities, and its heritage designation means it is not capable of being adequately adapted. Therefore, there are barriers for the school to be fully inclusive.

Furthermore, maintenance costs for Reigate Priory Junior School are 1,108% more than an equivalent size school in a modern building, and consequently it is not value for money for the school to stay in the current building.

These restrictions make adaptation unviable, and as it is a Scheduled Monument and a Grade I listed building in a Grade II listed parkland, there is no prospect of Historic England granting consent for demolition. Similarly, it would be impossible to leave the existing heritage building intact and provide a big enough new building within the site adjacent to the existing building as such a proposal would not achieve planning consent.

Do all other schools in Surrey comply with Design Standards for Schools?

It would be rare to require existing buildings to comply with the most up to date design standards. However, when consideration is being given to the re-provision or adaptation of a building, there would have to be a compelling reason to ignore more recent building standards.

Why can't the school be rebuilt on the current site?

This option has been explored in the past, led by the Department for Education (DfE). A wide range of surveys were undertaken as part of that process alongside the development of a presentation, which was delivered via a planning pre-application meeting held on the 9th of October 2020. The DfE's feasibility study concluded that the options for developing onsite were either not deliverable or not economically viable.

The school is currently located in the Reigate Priory building, a grade l listed property and scheduled monument, the grounds of which are part of the grade ll listed Reigate Priory Park and Garden. There is not space to build a new bespoke building for a 600-place school on the site, in accordance with current Building Bulletin 103 guidelines, and adaptions could not be made to the current building due to the building's designation and listings, which are there to preserve its special architectural and special historic interest. The Priory building Grade I listing means it is a building of 'exceptional interest'. Only 2.5% (10,000) of all 400,000 Historic England entries hold this grading.

There may be potential to accommodate a smaller school at the existing site, which could form part of the Option 2 scenarios, but it would require some wider reorganisation of school place provision in the Reigate area which would be examined via a working group looking at all reorganisation options.

Why is there not an option in the consultation to move to a site other than Woodhatch place?

We instructed property consultants in July 2023 to carry out an updated search of the local Reigate market for sites suitable for the development of a school and report all findings together with an assessment of deliverability. The search is an update to one undertaken in February 2022.

Woodhatch Place was the only site identified that met all the criteria required to deliver a 600-place junior school building as well as outdoor school spaces. These criteria were:

  • A site of approximately 8 acres and no smaller than 5 acres. Larger sites included, to ensure maximum coverage and that the development can accommodate a school which accords with the Department of Education standards for new schools.
  • Within 2 miles of the existing school.

Sites both off and on market with a range of ownership types, uses, access/location arrangements and sizes, have been considered.

The alternative site assessment in Reigate for Reigate Priory Junior School is available with the consultation documents as Annex 5.

If you are aware of another site that meets the search criteria which we have not identified, please contact us at reigateprimaryschools@surreycc.gov.uk.

Why does the consultation not identify or include any other specific locations as an option?

Two site searches have been completed, the most recent in August 2023, and Woodhatch Place remains the only available site that meets the criteria needed for a like-for-like school.

Was Wray Park included in the site search and why isn't it included as an option for a future site for Reigate Priory Junior School?

Yes, the Surrey Fire & Rescue site at Wray Park Road was included in the site search completed in August 2023. The majority of the site is already developed and occupied by Surrey Fire & Rescue Service with no plans to vacate in the future. The training centre is one of very few in the country which has an unrestricted license to carry out fire training and burn hazardous materials for training. Relocation of these facilities would be costly and difficult.

Further details are set out in Annex 5 of the consultation. The site is also one of the main sites used by SCC (Surrey County Council) for emergency contingency planning – required by Government.

Part of the site is Urban Open Space and the policy resists the loss of open space although there is a criteria that may allow for school expansion. Given the unrestricted licensing there is likely to be potential land contamination issues. This could impact on viability and deliverability. There are amenity issues with the retention of the fire and rescue training centre and Surrey Fire and Rescue and locating a School adjacent to these uses in terms of fumes and noise and disturbance from the blue light operations. Health and safety matters pertaining to operational site adjacent to a school together with safeguarding matters would also need to be overcome.

If the site were available, it is not in the best location from an education perspective as it is 1 mile away from the current site and is closer to schools in the primary planning area of Redhill. Current forecasts project a surplus of places in the planning area of Redhill meaning that there will be vacant places or capacity and there is not a need for additional school places in the area.

Was the Park Hall ex care home site on Reigate Hill considered in the site search?

The site does not meet the site search criteria and is around 0.75ha acres in size (less than half the size of Reigate Priority Junior School site). It is Surrey County Council's intention to redevelop the Park Hall site as an Alternative Provision School and Academy for Reigate Valley College to accommodate 72 primary and secondary pupils in 2025.

Priory Park has a large expanse of land, has consideration been given to building the school within a different location within the park?

There are heritage restrictions, and the park is also designated as metropolitan green belt. Due to the size of school required and known constraints, development within the wider park site would not be feasible, especially when it can be demonstrated that a site of lower designation is available (at Woodhatch Place).

Why can't the Council just put the additional investment into making the existing Reigate Priory Junior School into a location fit for modern education, rather than the expense of building a new school?

The building designations (e.g. listed status), age, and site constraints to deliver a school environment to the required standards cannot be overcome by investment alone, no matter how significant.

Reigate Priory is a significant building for Reigate, what will happen to the upkeep of the building if the school were to vacate?

Surrey County Council will continue to be responsible for the building and site as leaseholders but will work closely with its landlord, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, and relevant stakeholders, to find a suitable new use for the site in the future. No plans will commence until the future of Reigate Priory Junior School is determined.

What was said at the public meeting at Reigate Priory Junior School on 6 December 2023?

Below is the full text of the speech given by Liz Mills, Surrey County Council's Director of Education and Lifelong Learning, at the public meeting on 6 December 2023:

"I'd like to start by welcoming everyone and thanking you for coming to the consultation event this evening. As Richard said, my name is Liz Mills and I am the Director for Education and Lifelong Learning for Surrey County Council

Reigate Priory Junior School is a much-loved school with a rich history spanning many generations. We understand how difficult this consultation is, and the proposed options are, for members of the community. I would like to start by thanking the school leadership team at Reigate Priory Junior School who are doing an incredible job to provide an excellent education, in very challenging circumstances, and the governors at Reigate Priory who have dedicated their time and who volunteer to ensure that the very best outcomes for children and young people are achieved.

We are respectful of the building, all its history, and people's attachment to it. However, we must also acknowledge that it poses very real and difficult restrictions on the school's day to day operation and long-term security. And Reigate's children deserve to learn in an excellent environment. As the Director of Education and on behalf of the Council it is my responsibility to ensure that there are sufficient high-quality places for children to be educated, to ensure that we meet the requirements of the equality duty in the course of our work and that we ensure that we are working together to keep children safe in education.

A simple and powerful example of the existing limitations of the school site mean that we currently deny entry to children with additional needs and disabilities as the building is not accessible or equipped appropriately for their needs. This cannot be appropriate in 2023, and it is not lawful. There are also child protection risks with a public right of way through the school site and the use of the public park for sports and other activities. We cannot ignore these risks which the school are required to mitigate on a daily basis. The Grade 1 listing of the building means that adaptations are severely limited and even minor maintenance issues come with very lengthy processes of agreement and approval. This is not conducive to the scale and pace of school life or the needs of children in the community now. As a result, classrooms are not suitable for modern education, maintenance is extremely difficult, and the wider facilities are inappropriate to meet children's needs properly. Children are regularly subject to extremes of temperature, peeling paint and a host of issues being managed by the school team. This is a view also held by the Department for Education who support this consultation, and who are willing to fund a 21st Century classroom environment for all Reigate Priory children now and in the future. Maintenance of the current school is ongoing and we are investing significantly in order to keep the school open. But no amount of money spent on building maintenance will result in the learning environment required, that is equal to that which children enjoy elsewhere in the county.

As you know, we submitted a planning application to relocate the school to Woodhatch Place earlier this year to secure its future. The application was referred back to us, by the planning committee, with the potential for resubmission. This is different from a refusal of permission. In order to find a way forward from here that is informed by the views of the community we have launched this consultation. The consultation documents summarise the background, rationale, and options.

To summarise, the options are:
Option 1 – Move Reigate Priority Junior School in its entirety to Woodhatch Place creating 5 form entry junior school.
Option 2 - to establish an education working group to explore reorganisation options for schools in the Reigate primary planning area. This option would also require further statutory consultation and perhaps a series of separate planning applications if other schools require building modifications. Neither of these options are therefore without risk.

We have reflected on the reasons that the planning permission was referred back to us. We have continued to undertake work looking at further mitigations that could be put in place to address concerns. These include things like putting in additional support for transport, further work on safer crossings in addition to the pavement widening, traffic calming, additional pedestrian crossings and speed limits. Any specific new mitigations would be included in a subsequent resubmission of the planning application, if that option is pursued following this consultation. However, we know and have heard clearly some residents' concerns about moving the school to Woodhatch Place. We have listened, and so we have broadened the scope of discussions to look at wider options for primary school provision across Reigate. This is described as option 2. We have to find the right solution – for school staff, parents and carers, and the people of Reigate, but most of all for current pupils, prospective pupils and the future generations of young people in Reigate. I think this is something everyone in this room can agree on. However, we know that there are differing views and questions about how best to achieve this. This is why we're here today, and why we've opened this education consultation to hear the views of a wide range of people across the community.

This is not a planning consultation and no submission to the planning committee will be made, if at all, until the Cabinet have taken your views into account and made a decision based on all the available information. I must stress that we have no preferred outcome to this consultation, other than to secure suitable education for the children of Reigate now and for future generations.

Any question we cannot answer in the room we will commit to responding to in writing as part of the Frequently Asked Questions document online.
I'd now like to invite the Head Teacher of Reigate Priory Mr Moses to speak on behalf of the school community.
Thank you."

My school is part of an Academy Trust or Church school, why is Surrey County Council conducting the consultation?

If Surrey County Council's Cabinet decide to pursue option 2 the working group may consider changes to all schools in the pupil planning area of Reigate. The statutory process for making a decision for a significant change is slightly different depending on the type of school, however all would be subject to further consultation.

The council has a duty to ensure that there is a sufficiency of school places in a local area and therefore can consult on all state funded places in the locality. Surrey County Council does not have the power to mandate change to an academy trust school. Option 2 describes how Surrey County Council would work with all schools in the local area through their leadership teams and governance arrangements with a view to ensuring that the duty to provide sufficient school places can be met. Surrey County Council may not be the proposer or decision maker in any future change to a school that is part of an Academy Trust. In the event that agreement cannot be reached the Council could apply to make changes via the Regional Directors office for academy schools.

I am a parent with a pupil making the transition from infant to junior school, next year. Will the consultation impact on the school preferences I submit?

We understand that the uncertainty may impact parental preference. We would like to reassure parents that we are working towards finding a solution that is fit for the future for Reigate Priory Junior School and provide sustainability of school places overall in the area.

At the earliest, changes could come into effect from September 2026. There are no changes to admission arrangements for 2024/25 and 2025/26.

All admission arrangements must adhere to the Admissions Code 2021. Admission authorities must consult if reducing the published admission number (PAN) of a school. Consultation must be for a minimum of 6 weeks and must take place between 1 October and 31 January, 18 months before the school year that those arrangements are to apply. Therefore, any changes to admission arrangements in September 2026 would be consulted on between 1 October 2024 and 31 January 2025.

In option 1 there is no planned change to the admission criteria (other than a potential reduction in PAN described in the question below). Holmesdale Infant School and Dovers Green Infant School would remain as the two named feeder schools to Reigate Priory Junior School. Currently if the number of children who qualify under any criterion is greater than the number of places remaining available at the school, any remaining places will be offered to children who meet the criterion on the basis of proximity of the child's home address to the front door of the Reigate Priory building in Priory Park, Reigate, with children living nearest receiving the greater priority. If relocating the school would disadvantage any pupils, changes to the admission criteria could be considered.

If option 2 is agreed changes to admission arrangements may be considered by the working group. The admission authority for each school would need to consult on any proposed changes to the admission criteria.

The needs analysis shows there may be a need to reduce the number of junior school places in the future. Will Reigate Priory Junior School reduce Year 3 Published Admissions Number (PAN) and if so, does that change the options available?

Changes to Published Admissions Number (PAN) are temporary. When a school reduces PAN, they still have capacity to increase if there was a need for more school places in the area in future years.

Therefore, if Surrey County Council Cabinet are asked to make a decision for the long-term future of schools in the area, ideally, we would aim to sustain the capacity of 11 forms of entry in the area. An option to reduce capacity could be considered if it was identified that there were sufficient places in the short-term and potential to increase further if needed in the long-term.

Recently, Holmesdale Community Infant School reduced from a PAN of 120 to 90 in year R, in September 2023. The forecasts currently suggest that either Reigate Priory Junior School or Sandcross Primary School (as the two feeder schools) should reduce PAN by 30 places in September 2026.

In line with the Admissions Code 2021 admission authorities must consult if reducing the published admission number (PAN) of a school. Any changes to admission arrangements in September 2026 would be consulted on between 1 October 2024 and 31 January 2025.

Why are you consulting on all schools in Reigate? Why not schools in Redhill?

The Local Authority Pupil Planning Areas Guide for Local Authorities describes a pupil planning area as a group of schools within the local authority which is used for the purpose of assessing current and future pupil demand for school place provision.

The consultation directly impacts schools in the school place planning area of Reigate. The five schools in the primary planning area of Reigate are Reigate Priory Junior School, Dovers Green Infant School, Holmesdale Community Infant School, Sandcross Primary School and Reigate Parish Primary School. It may indirectly impact schools in neighbouring planning areas.

The education place planning forecasts for the number of primary school places is available in Annex 4 of the consultation documents. There are currently surplus places expected in the Redhill primary planning area. Therefore, expansions of schools in Redhill would not be in scope as part of option 2. However, the working group described in option 2 could liaise with schools in the Redhill planning area and may consider changes to admission arrangements and/or utilising places in the Redhill planning area and other neighbouring areas.

The education place planning forecasts show a need for between 10 forms of entry and 11 forms of entry in primary schools in Reigate. Can this be accommodated under option 1?

There is current capacity for 11 forms of entry (11FE) across the five primary schools in the pupil planning area of Reigate. In option 1 Reigate Priory Junior School would remain a 5FE junior school and therefore capacity of 11FE in the area would remain.

When will the education place planning forecasts be updated?

The forecasts are produced using a system called Edge Analytics. Data is collected annually, and the forecasts are usually updated in the autumn term each year.

This year we are expecting to share forecasts with schools by the end of term. We will aim to update Annex 4 by the end of January 2024.

How would each consultation option impact secondary schools?

The primary schools in Reigate are not named feeders into any secondary schools. Reigate School is the secondary school closest to the Reigate primary schools. Carrington School and St Bedes are also within 3 miles.

In option 1 there is not expected to be any change in the flow of pupils from primary to secondary.

Around 40% of pupils leaving Reigate Priory Junior School go to Reigate School in Year 7 followed by approx. 20% going to St Bedes. In terms of journeys from junior school to secondary, the proposed site at Woodhatch Place in option 1 is slightly closer (less than half a mile) to Reigate School than the current site and slightly further away (less than half a mile) to St Bede's School than the current site.

Outside of this consultation there may be a reduction in PAN at either Sandcross Primary or Reigate Priory Junior School in September 2026 which could mean fewer pupils leaving year 6 in July 2029.

In option 2 the working group would liaise with secondary schools as stakeholders and consider any impacts for secondary schools in any changes proposed.

I thought the planning application had been refused, why is option 1 therefore proposing a move to Woodhatch Place?

In February, Surrey County Council submitted a planning application for the re-location of Reigate Priory Junior School, from its current building to a new purpose-built setting at Woodhatch Place, off Cockshot Hill in Reigate. Although the application was recommended for approval by planning officers, the committee referred the application back to the Council.

Surrey County Council was given the option to re-submit the application but, following feedback from residents, we instead took time to consider the best solution for the school and surrounding residents. As a result, we are now publishing a consultation to hear your views on the future of primary school provision in the whole Reigate area, including Reigate Priory Junior School. This is an education consultation published by Surrey County Council's education service, consulting on options to provide sustainable education for children and young people in Reigate. It is not a planning consultation.

Any planning application would be considered outside of the education consultation. Although Surrey County Council's Cabinet will be making a decision on the future provision of primary school places in Reigate, any decision which includes a new building or adaptions to a current site would still be subject to the relevant planning permissions.

Did Surrey County Council only buy Woodhatch Place to build the school there?

No, the Woodhatch site was acquired for multiple purposes, one being a potential site for a new school, but others being a new civic centre for the county in Surrey.

The surrounding land was earmarked for various potential schemes that could help deliver vital services for Surrey residents, including – but not limited to – extra care accommodation for adults with complex needs, training, housing, and other council services.

Aren't there better uses for the Woodhatch site, for example Extra Care?

The need to provide mainstream school places is a statutory duty, which makes the school relocation the highest priority at the moment. Separately, Surrey County Council has two Extra Care projects underway in Banstead and Redhill.

If the Woodhatch Place relocation proposal was taken forward and incurred cost overruns, would these costs need to be borne by Reigate Priory School? Could it lead to the school being placed on an unsustainable financial footing from the outset of any proposed move?

No, the project is supported by DfE funding, and any balance of funding is to be met by Surrey County Council.

Has Reigate Priory Junior School been marketed informally for sale or hire as a site to any interested parties?

There are currently no plans for the existing school site and buildings, should it be vacated Reigate Priory Junior School. Should Option 2 be pursued, the retention of Reigate Priory Junior School on site may be an option, albeit a smaller school that it is presently.

We will not be making any formal plans for the future of the existing facilities until the future of the school is determined.

Will Reigate Priory Junior School be closed?

It has been clear from work to date that the intention of the Council has been to preserve Reigate Priory Junior School. This is not a consultation to close Reigate Priory Junior School, however change is necessary.

Whilst the closure of a school is not recommended, if option 2 is endorsed the working group could consider all options for the provision of primary school places in Reigate. Closing a school requires a statutory consultation and a council decision, which would be part of a separate process.

Does option 2 also include the hybrid proposal which Reigate & Banstead Borough Council have said they support and is more than possible? Allowing the school to remain on site in a new / updated form on the Victorian and year 6 part of the site?

The decision that the existing school site is not suitable for redevelopment, was reached through extensive feasibility work conducted by the DfE in consultation with Reigate and Banstead Borough Council's Planning and Conservation Teams, as well as Historic England representatives. Numerous options were explored – including using both buildings, solely the 1950s block, and different heights and sizes - but it was determined that it would not be possible to build a school of the same size on the site.

The DfE explored a hybrid option of complete new build, part new build/ part refurbished, retained, existing solution and concluded that this was not viable for the re-provision of a 5FE Junior School. Their assessment was that planning and heritage requirements and other constraints meant that any development to the site would be challenging. This conclusion was arrived at following consultation with Reigate & Banstead Borough Council Planning and Conservation Officers, along with Historic England. The DfE scheme required a new 3-storey building to be provided on the site of the current 1950s Year 6 Block. The feedback from Reigate & Banstead Borough Council and Historic England was unequivocal in that a 3-storey building would not be acceptable. This led the DfE to conclude that in order to sustain Reigate Priory Junior School in its current 5FE configuration, re-provision on an alternative site is the best option and that even if a deliverable solution were identified, it would not fully meet the school's long-term needs. DfE shares the view that new accommodation will give children the best possible accommodation for their education.

Whilst there are ways and means that the existing site and buildings could be redeveloped, these were not considered to be viable to meet the needs for Reigate Priory Junior School without a proposal that would be unacceptable in the context of the listed building and multiple other site designations.

There may be potential to accommodate a smaller school at the existing site, which could form part of the Option 2 scenarios, but it would require some wider reorganisation of school place provision in the Reigate area which would be examined via a working group looking at all reorganisation options.

Can the working group under option 2 come up with any other proposals or are there limitations placed on this?

Should a working group be established, any of the options developed will be subject to viability appraisals and any preferred option taken forward will have a full feasibility study carried out with surveys to determine impacts. Any decision which includes a new building or adaptions to the current site would still be subject to the relevant planning permissions.

Will Surrey County Council just resubmit planning anyway regardless of consultation outcome?

No. Any decision to submit a revised planning application would be subject to a Cabinet decision. All feedback and suggestions from the consultation will be carefully reviewed and considered in the decision-making process. If option 2 is pursued, this could be done in tandem with pursuing the planning application at Woodhatch under option 1. This is because of the uncertainties in making all the changes which may be necessary under option 2 and doing so within a reasonable time frame.

What is the condition of existing primary schools in Reigate? Do they have RAAC (Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete)?

We are not aware of the presence of RAAC within any of the Reigate schools. We will be writing to all Surrey schools in January 2024 where Surrey County Council is the landlord (such as Academies) to seek confirmation that schools have checked for the presence of RAAC, and the results of these surveys.

The four schools in the primary planning area of Reigate that may be impacted by the outcome of the consultation are themselves responsible for the condition of their schools, supported by DfE funding.

Should any of the schools be selected for development, and subject to the co-operation of the schools themselves, as part the feasibility study initial surveys will be instructed to determine their condition (including RAAC), to inform indicative design and cost proposals.

Would it be possible to create a pedestrian access from Smoke Lane which would enable the use of a number of quieter roads and paths for pedestrians?

This was given due consideration at pre-planning stage but ruled out on the grounds of gradient, lighting and secure boundary.

If Option 1 is chosen, will Surrey County Council put on a bus service for pupils?

Potentially. This is a key consideration raised at committee in the context of Surrey Local Transport Plan 4 and will be considered as part of any potential future application resubmission.

How would a new school site at Woodhatch be safe for pedestrians, bikes and scooters?

This will be a safe and secure site with controlled access points, with secure internal routes that connect Cockshot Hill and Hornbeam Road, suitable for pedestrians, cycles, and scooters.

There will be a significant uplift in secure and covered cycle/scooter parking compared to the existing site.

Limited vehicular traffic will have access to the school grounds (unlike Bell Street which is unrestricted and open to the public). It will be a pedestrian dominated environment with suitable internal zebra crossings.

How long will it take me pick up/drop off my child/ren if the school were to relocate to Woodhatch Place?

The logistics around multiple school pick-ups and drop-offs, specifically those that have a child in both Reigate Priory Junior School and Holmesdale Community Infant School is recognised. There would be a timetable proposed that retains breakfast/after school clubs, extends supervised play and allows the staggering of the school timetable to accommodate multiple drop-off and pick-up times.

How would the Woodhatch relocation plan mitigate against the amount of traffic and road safety, the road is already busy and pavements inadequate for high numbers of pedestrians?

The development has been assessed with careful consideration for travel characteristics, traffic and parking conditions, road safety, the school's catchment, thus proposes an extensive package of highway mitigation.

The traffic surveys and transport assessment methodology were scoped with the relevant Transport Development Planning, Highways and Road Safety officers, in line with industry standard practice, and the associated off-site highway works designed and evolved accordingly in consultation with Surrey County Council, Reigate Priory Junior School, Holmesdale Community Infant School, Dovers Green School, residents, parents/guardians, governors, and councillors.

To address safety concerns, the proposed off-site highway works will fundamentally change the character of Bell Street and Cockshot Hill, with:

  • A blanket 20mph zone from Central Reigate to Woodhatch Road.
  • Enforcement of the reduced speed limit through alterations to the highway from speed humps to road narrowing.
  • Additional pedestrian crossings and pedestrian access points.
  • Installation of Copenhagen crossings at the amended entrance to Woodhatch and egress onto Cockshot Hill (giving priority to all pedestrians instead of vehicles in line with SCC LTP4/Healthy Streets for Surrey Design Guide).
  • Widening of the stretch of Cockshot Hill footway deemed to be of concern at consultations.

This is in addition to the wider package of transport measures including:

  • Adoption of the maximum possible on-site parking standards to reduce long-stay parking impacts on the local highway.
  • Extension to supervised play.
  • Phased departure of pupils (to minimise the impact on on-street parking and facilitate drop-off/pick-up between Reigate Priory Junior School and Holmesdale Community Infant School)
  • Promotion of off-site Park and Stride.
  • Implementation of and commitment to the HomeRun school travel app for a period of 5 years including promotion of car sharing.
  • £50,000 towards off-site junction improvements.
  • Continued promotion and potential extension of breakfast and after school club capacity.
  • Implementation of a school travel plan, car park management plan, delivery and servicing plan and full construction logistics plan.

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