AMBITIOUS plans have been revealed for a £7 million new primary school in Silsden to cope with a surge in demand.
The existing two schools in the area should be merged on to a new site to cater for a massive increase in numbers to avoid an educational crisis, say councillors Andrew Mallinson and Chris Atkinson.
They have called on the Bradford Council to buy land in Silsden and get the school built before hundreds of new houses are developed in the town.
The existing infant school, Aire View, already expects reception classes to dramatically increase during the next three three years, as children of existing Silsden families reach school age.
The councillors spoke as Councillor Ralph Berry, the Council's executive member for children and young peoples services, revealed to a single replacement for Hothfield Junior School and Aire View was among options being explored.
He hinted potential sites had been identified for the project, which is estimated to cost between £6 million and £7 million.
Coun Berry said: “We have been discussing with the schools’ governing bodies for some time about extending the schools or looking at another site.
“In effect, we’re looking at creating a new school. Two schools would be required to merge.”
Cllrs Mallinson and Atkinson, along with fellow Craven ward member Adrian Naylor, attended a briefing meeting this week with senior Council education officials.
Cllr Mallinson said he was “extremely concerned” to learn of the situation facing Silsden’s growing population.
He added: “There is no land on the existing school sites or near them to extend. There’s only enough capacity in Silsden for the next two or three years, then it will be breaking point. My fear is we’ll end up with a lot of portable buildings around the school sites to take up that capacity.”
Cllr Atkinson claimed council officers at the meeting accepted Silsden was heading for a crisis.
He added: “With 1,000 houses coming, they’ve got to do something. You can’t go on building houses – you need to have the infrastructure. It’s coming back to bite the council.”
Coun Atkinson said Bradford had earmarked a site between Silsden Park and Daisy Hill for a new school several years ago, but this was now too small.
Coun Berry said the council also hoped to secure the future of the swimming pool currently in the Hothfield School complex.
He added: “We're looking carefully to see all the needs are met. We want to ensure we deliver a school building. There are sites and options being looked at.”