A NEW community primary school in Whalley is ‘vital’ ahead of the village ‘doubling in size’ by 2025.
The Rev Gill Dyer, vice- chairman of governors at Whalley CE Primary School, has called on Lancashire County Council to look into the idea after a series of planning applications for homes were approved last year for the Ribble Valley village.
Whalley has one primary school which can take a maximum of 40 children per year, but the Rev Dyer has said that it wouldn’t cope if another school wasn’t built.
Among the applications passed last year by Ribble Valley Borough Council was the controversial Lawsonsteads plan for 260 homes.
Whalley Primary School was recently criticised after it changed its admissions policy to favour children who live in the local area, and who attend the local parish church.
The Rev Dyer said: “Whalley is set to double in size by 2025, and this will have a huge impact on the prim-ary school.
“We currently can take a maximum of 40 children per year and, with the new houses, we will not be able to cope. We have been promised a new school for many years now and nothing has been done.
“The governors are extremely concerned that a new school has not been announced because there will be a lot of unhappy people after the new houses are built.
“In changing the admissions policy we are protecting people who have come to the school for years, and live in the local area.
“I would call on the county council to look into the idea of building a new community school for the Whalley area.”
Nick Walker, chairman of Save Whalley Village Action Group, said: “I think Rev Dyer is absolutely right to raise this issue, and it has been one of our main fears for a long time.
“Local authorities seem to only build schools when the need is there, but not in anticipation, despite everybody knowing that these houses are going to come.”
Mike Hart, county council director with responsibility for school places planning, said: “There is currently no need for additional primary school places in Whalley, and the village school had more than enough places for those who put it as their first preference for this September.
“When a rise in child numbers is on the horizon, we have to perform a balancing act to ensure we provide enough places for new children in the right place at the right time, without destabilising numbers at existing schools.
“We are aware of potential housing developments in Whalley and will continue to monitor the sit-uation there, as we do in the rest of Lancashire.”