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Closed school could get new lease of life
A SCHOOL, which was closed down in 2010 after it was graded as “inadequate” by Ofsted watchdogs, could reopen within the next two years.
Parents of Chineham Park Primary School, in Popley, Basingstoke, fought to keep it open following the damning inspection, but Hampshire County Council (HCC) closed it in August 2010 and pupils were moved to neighbouring schools.
Now, a report prepared for HCC shows that 420 school places are needed in the Popley area, and that if pupil numbers justify it, the former school in Shakespeare Road could re-open.
The Interim Strategic Infrastructure Statement sets out the likely infrastructure needs in Hampshire over the next 20 years.
It shows that an extra 4,475 school places are needed in Basingstoke and Deane, including 210 at a Popley primary school, and 210 places at Merton Infant and Junior Schools, which are also in Popley and would have taken children from Chineham Park.
Since Chineham Park closed down, it has been transformed into The Popley Spotlight Centre, run by charity Peace of Mind Care, to provide affordable activities such as dance and drama for the community.
Michaela Riley, who founded the charity, said: “We have been told that we are definitely safe for the next year but we don’t know more than that. We always knew that we could use the building for three to five years when we took on the premises.
“Hampshire County Council have said they will work with us to relocate when the time comes. We are there for the community so whatever is needed in that building by the community should happen.”
Basingstoke North Hampshire County Councillor Jane Frankum, who fought to keep Chineham Park Primary open, said: “The council are working with Popley Spotlight to find another premises. It was never a permanent thing and they knew that.
“It will re-open as a school which tells us they shouldn’t have closed it in the first place. There is a need for a school there, and that need will increase when more houses are built.”
Councillor Roy Perry, executive lead member for children’s services at the council, said Chineham Park was included in the strategic plan to meet the potential increase in demand for school places, linked to the proposed new housing development of 450 homes north of Marnel Park.
He added: “It is likely we would pursue the re-use of the Chineham Park site as the preferred option as this would represent cost-effective use of resources.”
He said Spotlight had been made aware, and added: “We have been working closely with them to help them identify alternative accommodation.”
Cllr Perry said that the earliest the school would re-open is 2014.