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New School Locations: Consultation of Communities

Volume 705: debated on Monday 6 December 2021

21. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on helping to ensure that communities are consulted on the location of new schools. (904583)

The free schools programme has created hundreds of new schools, including Eden Boys School and The Olive School in Bolton, both judged as outstanding by Ofsted. Before signing a funding agreement to open any new school, the Secretary of State will always have regard to local consultation on the proposals.

Getting planning right is one of the biggest concerns my constituents have. The proposals to build a new school on the Captains Clough playing field drew a huge number of people to a public meeting I recently held. Will my hon. Friend the Minister commit to meeting me and working with my constituents to ensure we get the right school in the right place?

I understand that an initial site search put forward Captains Clough as a preferred option, but we are aware of the concerns raised by my hon. Friend and others, and that a local group has submitted a village green planning application. We are exploring options with the local authority to resolve those concerns, but of course I would be delighted to meet my hon. Friend to discuss the matter further.