Frequently asked questions about Reigate Priory Junior School

Page contents:

  1. The existing school building
  2. Site selection
  3. Operationally net zero carbon
  4. Transport, access and parking
  5. School admissions
  6. Design
  7. The existing school site

The existing school building

Why do you need to re-locate the school from the Priory?

Due to the existing building condition, The Department for Education identified the current Reigate Priory Junior School site in the Priority Schools Building Programme 2 (PSBP2), as a site that required significant improvements to ensure it meets the future demands and needs of pupils.

An evidence-based study undertaken by The Department for Education as part of PSBP2 considered how to address the shortcomings of the current building. This study concluded that the current building at Priory Park does not meet the design standards required for education provision today.

Due to the age and various heritage designations of the building, it is not viable to undertake the works required to bring the site up to the required standards. To ensure the future sustainability of the school, it must be relocated.

Can you explain what the issues are with the current building?

There are several areas where the current building does not meet modern standards. For example, the size of the classrooms is not sufficient, and the existing school kitchen is significantly undersized and unable to deliver 600 meals a day. The existing kitchen is 25m² only where a school of this size should have a circa 70m² kitchen. Equally the adjacent dining hall in the existing school is only 85m², whereas this should be 150m².

There are also two key areas of safeguarding concern with the current site. These relate to the Public Right of Way through the school site, which splits the site in two, with buildings on both sides, and the use of Priory Park, which is open to the public, as the sports pitches for the school.

Was a proposal for a footbridge across the existing school site previously approved?

There is no planning permission. A proposal for a footbridge was developed as part of the Department of Education's appraisal of the existing site, however it was dismissed as unviable. Not necessarily because of the bridge, but because of the scale of the building required adjacent to the Grade I listed building.

What would happen if the school did not move to Woodhatch Place?

If the re-location to Woodhatch Place was not to proceed, then the same process would be followed to deliver the school at the next available and most suitable site within the alternative site appraisal report.

Why was the upgrade of the current site cancelled when the budget and changes were already approved?

The upgrade of the existing Priory School site was never approved. An allocation of funding was made, following which an in-depth feasibility study was carried out by the Department for Education, which concluded that upgrading of the existing school site was unviable. The allocation of funding was then moved to the proposed relocation, following which a further feasibility study was undertaken by Surrey County Council and approved by the Department for Education.

Would it not be better value for money to upgrade the current school building?

The main bulk of the existing school simply cannot be remodelled to give a fit-for-purpose school facility, due to its heritage status. The newer Year 6 block could be demolished/remodelled; however, this option was rejected by Reigate and Banstead Borough Council Conservation and Planning Officers and representatives from Historic England in October 2020 during a meeting held with the Department for Education team, who looked at the viability of upgrading the existing school.

The Department for Education subsequently concluded that it was not viable to upgrade the current building due to the unacceptable impact on the heritage asset and the cost of undertaking any upgrade.

Site selection

Why can't you publish the 24 alternative sites that you considered?

This document forms part of the planning submission pack requirements and will be available to view as part of the planning consultation process with statutory consultees and the public.

Did you consider Wray Park?

Yes, we considered 24 sites, and this included Wray Park.

Surrey Fire and Rescue (SFRS) currently operate out of the Wray Park site and it is not our intention to move them to an alternative site or ask for them to vacate the site. Wray Park is the location of Reigate Fire Station, as well as SFRS fire training facilities.

This includes major incident training on the large hard standing area whereby large fires are started and training/testing/skills enhancement takes place. The fires create fumes and smoke which will be in close proximity to the cricket pitch area, therefore any uses of that site would be impacted with associated air quality impacts.

In addition, health and safety is a key priority with blue light services needing unfettered access without conflicts such that would occur with an education facility.

The site is also used for its duties under the Civil Contingencies Act 2008.

On 29 March 2019, a cabinet paper was published suggesting that the Wray Park site could be sold for residential development. However, following the recent COVID-19 pandemic, it became quickly apparent how vital the designated site is. Therefore, any potential site disposal plans have ceased.

Why is this your preferred site and why did you choose it?

We carried out a robust appraisal to compare different options to meet the educational need for a new school building. In doing so, we have balanced technical, environmental, programme and cost considerations.

Woodhatch Place was the only site that met all the criteria required to deliver a 600-place junior school building as well as outdoor school spaces. It is the only site that is available within a reasonable time frame, is at least five acres in size and has the fewest planning constraints.

A detailed site search document will be part of the planning submission and will include the analysis of all the identified sites. This document will be available to view once a planning application has been submitted and validated.

What other sites were considered?

We carried out a robust appraisal to compare different options to meet the educational need for a new school building. In doing so, we have balanced technical, environmental, programme and cost considerations.

24 sites in total were considered. A detailed site search document will be part of the planning submission and will include the analysis of all the identified sites. This document will be available to view once a planning application has been submitted and validated.

Why have we not been consulted on the other sites?

The site location has been chosen as a result of a robust options assessment process. This process relied heavily on the technical constraints that exist for the delivery of a new school, these technical constraints meant it was not appropriate to consult on the site location. The Department for Education provided input and support during the original assessment process at the outset of the project and since then SCC have undertaken a detailed site search to identify the most suitable site.

A detailed site search document will be part of the planning submission and will include the analysis of all the identified sites. This document will be available to view once a planning application has been submitted.

Operationally net zero carbon

Have you accounted for embodied carbon in construction?

Yes. We are targeting a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Energy Assessment Method) rating of "Very Good", which requires us to follow the principles of the "Green Guide" in selecting construction materials in order to minimise embodied carbon.

What is the 'whole life carbon' assessment for the school?

This does not form part of our assessment of net zero carbon in operation.

How can the new school be zero emissions when more parents will be driving their children to school?

The net zero carbon applies only to the operation of the building. However, there will be a school Travel Plan which will encourage sustainable modes of transport to and from the school by pupils and staff. A proportion of staff parking spaces will also be equipped with electric vehicle charging points.

Transport, access and parking

Will the re-location of the school to Woodhatch Place result in the Statutory walking distance for school children being exceeded?

No. The Council follows the government legislation on walking distance. This is defined in the Education Act 1996 Section 444 para (5) In subsection (4) "walking distance"—

(a) in relation to a child who is under the age of eight, means two miles, and

(b) in relation to a child who has attained the age of eight, means three miles.

In each case measured by the nearest available route.

Above these distances, assistance for transport to school applies.

Holmesdale Community Infant School is within two miles of the proposed site and Dovers Green School is within one mile of the proposed site.

How will you manage the impact on local roads?

We understand that providing a development that is well connected and addresses traffic and road safety concerns will be key for the local community and the school.

We are in close dialogue with the highways department and are carrying out a number of parking and traffic surveys of the local highway to inform the forthcoming transport assessment.

The proposal will be accompanied by improvements to the existing access, implementation of a separate new egress, and a package of off-site highway works including associated parking controls to mitigate inappropriate parking on the public highway.

A range of off-site traffic surveys have been conducted to test the impact of the relocated school on local junction capacity. Any impacts deemed unacceptable would need to be addressed by way of either junction mitigation or travel planning measures.

How many parents do you anticipate will drive to the new school?

Based on the current postcode data available, we estimate that 53% of Reigate Priory Junior School pupils are predicted to arrive at the proposed school site by car (including car sharing accounting for sibling arrangements), or 318 pupils.

What provisions will be put in place to help children walk safely to school?

We are exploring a wide range of improvements with Surrey County Council's Highways department and following various surveys we have developed a package of measures to address pedestrian safety concerns. These improvements include increasing pavement widths, reducing carriage way widths, introducing new crossing points and raised tables, a speed reduction to 20mph, road markings, signage, and pedestrian guard railing.

The school will also benefit from multiple pedestrian access points, with two from the west and one from the east. This will help minimise the number of pedestrians on any given footway at any one time.

Will you be including parking spaces for drop-off and pick-up?

Following a data collection exercise and review of the school travel demand, resident feedback, local traffic conditions and highway safety, we are proposing within the package of mitigation measures, 26 parking space for pupil drop-off and pick-up within the school site. This will be in addition to the existing arrangement of parking permits within the Bell Street car park.

Will Blue Badge parking spaces be provided?

Three parking spaces are proposed for blue badge holders in line with local parking standards.

Will there be any improvements to public transport, for example a school bus from Reigate Station?

There are currently no improvements to public transport proposed. Typically, children of junior school age are not transported to school by public transport, as is currently the case with Reigate Priory Junior School.

What consideration will there be for children whose parents don't drive?

As with any school development, and in accordance with sustainable transport policy, we look to facilitate travel to school by non-car modes (predominantly walking), where many children currently walk to school. In addition, we will be providing bike shelters (accessible from both the eastern and western access point) as well as scooter parking.

The school will have multiple pedestrian access points, with two from the west and one from the east, encouraging a distribution of trips across multiple access points and maximising pedestrian accessibility.

We are proposing the following measures to ensure all children can arrive at school on time:

  • Continued and potential expansion of breakfast and afterschool club provision at Reigate Priory Junior School and the associated feeder schools to minimise any inconvenience caused for those that do not drive
  • A package of off-site highway improvement works to facilitate access to site for non-motorised road users, facilitate crossing, minimise safety concerns and controlling inappropriate parking
  • Promotion of car sharing
  • Design, promotion and implementation of the School Travel Plan, Car Park Management Plan and Delivery and Servicing Plan
  • Continuation of parking space permit arrangements at Bell Street car park

Will cycle lanes be added to Cockshot Hill?

Cycle lanes are not proposed as part of the package of highways measures.

Will improvements be made to local footpaths around the site?

Yes. Footway widening works are proposed to address concerns raised during the public consultations and discussions with Reigate Priory Junior School Governors in relation to pedestrian safety on Cockshot Hill.

We are also proposing to reduce carriageway widths, introduce new crossing points and raised tables, a speed reduction to 20mph, road markings, signage, and pedestrian guard railing.

We are also looking into the acceleration of works to the eastern side of the Cockshot Hill footway to clear the foliage that has, over time, crept into the pavement, reducing the effective width of the footway. Full details will be included in the Transport Assessment document contained within the planning application pack.

Will this proposal lead to more people parking on neighbouring streets?

Following a data collection exercise and review of the school travel demand, resident feedback, local traffic conditions and highway safety, we are proposing within the package of mitigation measures, 26 parking space for pupil drop-off and pick-up within the school site. This will be in addition to the existing arrangement of parking permits within the Bell Street car park.

We are working to minimise the impact of parking on neighbouring streets. However, the assessment of school related parking on the local highway network in proximity to the proposed Reigate Priory Junior School site has determined that there is adequate capacity to accommodate the anticipated demand from the school, with parking demand not anticipated to exceed available capacity for peak school pick up and drop off times.

Furthermore, all on-street parking will be short-stay only, with all day parking associated with staff accommodated on-site.

Will parents be able to use the existing Woodhatch Place car park for pick-up and drop-off?

Parents will not be able to use the existing Woodhatch Place car park for pick-up and drop-off.

Are there any plans to have a 'walking bus' for children to the new school site?

A walking bus is not proposed within the current School Travel Plan. However, this is a live document which will be regularly reviewed and updated to suit travel patterns.

Would there be parking at the school if the child needed picking up during the school day or had to be collected and dropped back for a medical appointment?

It is anticipated that should a child need special drop-off / pick-up arrangements related to a medical appointment, then it may be possible to arrange for the parent to be allowed into the car park using the intercom system which will be in place to accept visitors into the car park.

Are there plans for any zebra crossings outside the school?

The package of off-site highway works will include the proposed implementation of an additional pedestrian crossing facility in front of the site on Cockshot Hill, both to facilitate walking trips from the north / south but also those walking from roads to the west of Cockshot Hill.

Are there plans to change the speed limit on Cockshot Hill?

Yes. A change in the speed limit on Cockshot Hill from 30mph to 20mph is proposed.

Will there be any changes to the Woodhatch Place office junction?

It is proposed to provide improvements to the existing access to Woodhatch Place in order to accommodate pedestrian and vehicular access to Reigate Priory Junior School. These will be in the form of footway widening, a dedicated footway connecting Cockshot Hill with the northern side of the Reigate Priory Junior School internal site access, an additional pedestrian crossing on the Woodhatch Place arm of the junction, relocation of existing access gates to ensure secure boundaries for Surrey County Council and Reigate Priory Junior School, and improvements to junction geometry to improve pedestrian visibility and the time it takes to cross the Woodhatch Place junction for pedestrians using the Cockshot Hill footway.

Will there be pedestrian access to the new school from Smoke Lane?

We are not proposing to provide a separate pedestrian access directly from Smoke Lane. There are a number of constraints including topography and property boundaries outside of the planning application red line boundary. However, there is an existing footway connecting Smoke Lane with Cockshot Hill which accordingly provides a pedestrian connection from the north of Woodhatch Place.

Will you consider putting on a shuttle bus between schools?

A shuttle bus is not proposed as the statutory home to school distance is not exceeded by the proposal.

Will reducing the speed limit on the A217 / Cockshot Hill to 20mph make congestion worse?

It is not anticipated that reducing the speed limit from 30 to 20mph will make congestion worse but rather that the lower speed will help regulate traffic flow along the A217 Cockshot Hill.

Does the walking distance door-to-door (i.e., between home, Holmesdale Community Infant School and the new school located at Woodhatch) comply with Statutory walking distance guidance?

Yes. The guidance quoted is used to determine whether travel assistance is required, it is not the maximum that a school should be from a home address. The guidance does not affect or influence the location of a school, only the maximum distance a child is expected to walk before travel assistance is provided. The distance only relates to the distance from home to school, not a round trip.

The proposal to move the school to Woodhatch Place is because there are simply no other suitable sites within a closer proximity to the existing school. Nonetheless, we are looking to address this by, for example, exploring opportunities for parents with children in Holmesdale to conduct drop-off before escorting the second child to Reigate Priory Junior School.

Can you include an entrance or exit nearer to Hill House Drive?

This is not feasible, as the land which forms the Surrey County Council's offices will not necessarily stay in Surrey County Council's ownership in the future and this could result in an issue at a later date.

What will the impact of air pollution be on the A127 / Cockshot Hill with increased traffic on the road?

An air quality assessment for the school development is a requirement for planning and will form part of the application submission pack. There is no impact assessment requirement for the wider road network.

Were the travel distance and times between Woodhatch Place and Holmesdale Community Infant school considered as part of your assessment?

The travel distance and times between Woodhatch Place and Holmesdale Community Infant school have been considered as part of the Transport Assessment. A parking beat survey conducted in proximity to Holmesdale Community Infant School demonstrates that there is adequate capacity to accommodate additional parking demand should the Reigate Priory Junior School relocation generate an increase in car mode share to 80% (for those families with a child in both Reigate Priory Junior School and Holmesdale Community Infant school) and subsequently increase pressure on on-street parking demand in proximity to Holmesdale Community Infant school. Furthermore, the continued and potential expansion of breakfast and afterschool club provision at Reigate Priory Junior School and the associated feeder schools is proposed to minimise any inconvenience caused for those that do not drive.

School admissions

What will happen if you do not fill the five forms of entry?

As education authority Surrey County Council monitors places annually to ensure sufficient places are provided across pupil place planning areas.

How will the school's re-location affect the admissions criteria?

Admissions from September 2023 will use 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.

This will mean children living nearer to the existing school site will still have greater priority. This will ensure that the intake to Reigate Priory for 2023 will be unaffected by the move of school site.

For how long will the catchment area be based on the current admissions criteria?

For 2024 and beyond it is currently our intention to continue with the same admissions criteria, however these arrangements must be determined and confirmed every year. If we did have plans to change the admissions criteria, we would need to run an additional consultation with the community.

When is the school due to move?

The target date is Summer 2024, subject to planning approval.

Will any amendment to the Reigate and Banstead Borough Council boundary line impact school admissions?

No. We are the education authority and often pupils go over Borough and District lines to be educated.

Why has the school been designed for a five-form entry?

We are proposing a replacement school building and outdoor school spaces for an existing five-form entry junior school.

Are there any plans to expand Reigate Priory Junior School in the future?

There are currently no plans for future expansion at the school.

Did you look at the option of a combined Infant and Junior school?

The decision to relocate Reigate Priory was the result of the Department for Education condition review, identified through the Priority School Building Programme 2 (PSBP2). The PSBP2 funding from DfE is only available for improving the current provision, and not changing the educational provision across the area.

What joint after school care will be provided for both Holmesdale Community Infant School and the new school located at Woodhatch?

Subject to planning approval, Reigate Priory Junior School and the associated feeder schools will be responsible for agreeing any joint after school care arrangements.

Will there be a staggered start time to ensure there is sufficient time to conduct morning drop-off and travel onwards to local feeder schools?

Suitable phasing of the school day, including proposed staggering of pupil departures through the implementation of a phased departure at the end of the day, and additional care activities are proposed to minimise the impact of the increased distance between RPJS and its feeder schools.

The school day will be the same length for all pupils. Earlier drop-offs/later pick-ups for the staggers will be achieved through supervised play/additional school clubs/activities. The main school day will be consistent for all pupils, with no loss in schooling for any child.

Will children on a staggered start miss school time?

No. The main school day will be consistent for all pupils, with no loss in schooling for any child.

What additional schooling provisions will be made for parents in North Reigate?

Reigate Priory Junior School will continue to serve the Reigate planning area.

This proposal focuses solely on the need to re-provide the current facility. The decision to relocate Reigate Priory was the result of the Department for Education condition review, identified through the Priority School Building Programme 2 (PSBP2). The PSBP2 funding from Department for Education is only available for improving the current provision, and not changing the educational provision across the area. However, this does not preclude future discussions around education provision across the pupil place planning area.

Design

Is the new building big enough for the proposed number of children?

Yes, the proposal complies with the Department for Education's design standards for a 600-pupil school.

Will the colour of the building blend into the environment?

Where possible materials have been selected to reflect the surrounding buildings. For example, a buff-coloured brick has been proposed, which is in keeping with the existing buildings on site.

Why does the school building need to be three storeys?

The design aims to strike a balance between easily accessible internal and external spaces as well as considerations for the site constraints, such as topography, existing public sewer, protected trees and ponds. This required the design team to investigate a compact solution to accommodate the school's requirements.

A two-storey building would occupy a greater footprint, limiting the available external play areas. A three-storey solution was deemed more suitable, providing ample external play spaces and delivering the educational brief set out by the school. To minimise impact on neighbouring properties the second floor has been set back from the adjacent Belvederes development.

You are proposing to build the school on a high bank, will this not make the building seem like four stories when viewed from neighbouring properties?

There are already existing level changes on site that slope down to the boundaries. However, to ensure the building and surrounding landscape is accessible on site, the landscape will need to be manipulated to ensure level access. As such, the existing mounds will be removed and levelled to form play spaces. Towards the boundaries there will be slopes, however, to mitigate the visual impact on the surrounding properties strategic planting will be implemented.

Have you considered the noise impact, overlooking and privacy for the residents of the Belvederes?

We are undertaking detailed assessments to consider the potential impact of the proposed development and how we could reduce or mitigate any significant impact.

To limit the impact on immediate neighbouring properties, the proposed school building volume has been set back on the second floor towards the centre of the building to provide a part two-storey building nearest to the Belvederes.

A combination of acoustic fencing, existing vegetation and new thicket planting will also act as a visual and acoustic screen between The Belvederes and the school on the south-eastern boundary.

What safeguarding measures will be put in place given the school will be on a shared site?

Safeguarding is a key aspect of the design. The school will have the appropriate security and access systems as well as a 2.4m high boundary fence.

Will the all-weather pitches be floodlit?

No, floodlighting will not be included in the proposal.

What about the trees on the site, what is going to happen to them?

We have undertaken a survey of the trees in and around the proposed development site to understand their current condition. Whilst a number of trees, in and around the site, will be retained, the plans do mean that we have to remove some trees to facilitate the development.

Only trees to enable the development will be removed, all other trees on site will be retained. This includes the majority of trees on the western boundary to Cockshot Hill and the trees on the north of the existing earth mound on the eastern boundary.

To compensate for the loss of the existing trees, we are committing to a biodiversity net gain strategy that will achieve a biodiversity net gain of 10%.

What impact will the proposed tree removal have on local wildlife?

The removal of trees will have at worst a neutral impact on the local wildlife once proposed mitigation measures are implemented. It is planned that, overall, there will be a net gain in the wildlife/biodiversity locally once the enhancement of retained woodland on site and existing woodland offsite is undertaken and managed properly according to an agreed management plan. We have been able to establish this through the Ecological Impact Assessment AECOM undertook for the proposed Reigate Priory Junior School. This assessed in detail the impacts of the Proposed Development on biodiversity. AECOM also produced a Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) assessment quantifying the change in biodiversity units and recommending measures to ensure that the project overall achieves a net gain in wildlife/biodiversity (Appendix E).

The loss of trees will be mitigated by the enhancement of the retained woodland within the Site and woodland offsite. This will be achieved by establishing a varied age structure within the tree population, diversifying the tree species which are currently mainly pine trees and introducing more deadwood into the woodland to benefit insects and other invertebrates. These measures are linked to the recommendations coming from the BNG assessment report (see Appendix E).

Measures will be implemented to minimise the impacts of the removal of trees on wildlife/biodiversity, including:

  • supervision of the tree removal by an ecologist,
  • carrying out the works outside the breeding bird season,
  • retaining trees identified with suitability for roosting bats,
  • supervising removal of trees low suitability for bat roosts by a bat licensed ecologist,
  • removing potential hibernacula for reptiles and amphibians before the hibernation season,
  • carrying out pre-commencement surveys for badgers.

The Ecological Impact Assessment and the Biodiversity Net Gain Assessment both form part of the planning application.

The existing school site

What will happen to the Priory building?

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council are responsible for the process of developing proposals and engaging with stakeholders to identify the best available options to maximise its use, deliver long term benefits and ensure the future prosperity of the Reigate Priory site.

If safeguarding is a key issue at the existing site, why can't the Public Right of Way not be closed to resolve this?

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.

Has the proposal taken into consideration the impact on Reigate businesses?

The planning application does not take the impact on local businesses into account. However, as the school is relocating 0.7 miles further south of the existing site, any impact is anticipated to be negligible.