Academy bid approved at last after decade wait

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AN Aylesbury academy’s long-delayed move from its ‘dilapidated’ building to a £23 million state-of-the-art site has finally been given a green light.

Politicians at Bucks County Council have backed Aylesbury Vale Academy’s bid to move to the new Berryfields estate – more than 10 years after a move was first mooted.

Work on the site, to the north of the A41, is set to start in about a week, and construction will begin in April.

The chairman of governors said he was delighted the move was going ahead, with the academy set to open in September next year.

Planning documents shown to councillors described the academy’s Weedon Road home as ‘dilapidated’, and said it was no longer suitable for delivering a modern curriculum.

Gordon Joyner, of the Diocese of Oxford, which runs the academy, said: “The process started about 10 years ago.

“It’s been going on for a long time, but I’ve always been confident it was going to go ahead, the only question was when.

“When we open in September 2013, we’re going to have a state of the art building. “

But he hit back at claims the current building is not up to scratch.

He said: “The main reason for the move is expansion.

“The condition of the existing buildings isn’t actually that bad on a day-to-day basis, but it’s about planning for expansion.

“At the moment it’s just got space for 950 pupils.”

It is anticipated that the academy will grow over the next 10 years to ultimately accommodate 1,500 students on the new Berryfields estate, which is set to see 3,000 homes built.

Aylesbury Vale Academy, formerly Quarrendon School, opened in 2009.

At the time, the move was scheduled to happen by September 2011.

But the economic downturn, and problems with the transfer of land from developers, delayed the move.

Ward councillor Niknam Hussain, Liberal Democrat, said: “It’s going to be incredibly important for children in the whole of Aylesbury, at long last.

“It’s five, maybe six years late, but at last the area’s getting the school it deserves. Quarrendon hasn’t been invested in for a long time.”

In December, members of Bucks County Council’s development control committee voiced concerns about the number of parking spaces on the site. This week fresh plans which include an extra 59 parking spaces, were approved after a redesign. The total number of spaces on the site is set to be 165, with 154 available when the academy opens in September next year.