Assessment of College Land Need and Areas Surplus to Requirements
The first part of the College’s Strategic Plan was to assess what physical accommodation and site are needed for the College now and in the future. The KEVICC school site has evolved over time with the accommodation currently split across several sites, on opposite sides of the busy A385, which creates significant problems for the College with timetabling, pupil safety, accessibility, and the security of its premises. The number of pupils attending the College has reduced from 1850 to 1000 over the last decade and is expected to remain at the lower number for the foreseeable future. Work with the Local Education Authority around numbers attending local primary schools supports our analysis that the long-term need is for a secondary school of the current size.
As most local people are aware, as its roll has fallen, the College has taken accommodation/buildings out of use. Areas no longer used include the Lower School building on the Elmhirst site which is no longer fit for purpose. The school has also restricted the use of playing fields on the Elmhirst site which have ongoing problems with poor changing facilities and poor drainage, particularly during the winter months.
To effectively manage the situation and plan for the future, the Governing Body has developed a long-term strategic plan for the College that realises the school vision and meets the needs of students now and in the future.
A detailed analysis of the College’s accommodation has been undertaken these needs. We have considered the curriculum needs of the College (how many students are likely to be taking specific subjects) and what is required for the number of pupils attending according to the Department for Education’s (DfE) recommendations and guidelines. Using the DfE calculations and assumptions for the maximum spaces needed, the assessment clearly demonstrates a current excess in both accommodation and site area. This also matches with the College's own, internal, assessment of classroom and curriculum needs.
Funding is unlikely to be provided by the central government at the scale needed to make the improvements the College sees as being necessary to support it in realising its vision, therefore the College is considering disposing of the parts of the school site that have been identified as surplus to requirements as a way of raising the significant amount of capital funding needed to improve the remaining school accommodation and facilities. Stringent and statutory checks are in place to ensure that any proposed disposals do not place the college at a disadvantage, examples of these checks and balances are:
- All applications to dispose of land owned by the College must be submitted to the Secretary of State for Education for approval, they will ensure that the school still has sufficient site and accommodation to serve the number of pupils on roll now and in the future (this is the process we are starting with this consultation).
- Disposals cannot proceed without the Secretary of State’s approval
- The Secretary of State will ensure that all receipts are reinvested back into the school buildings and sporting facilities (receipts cannot, for example, be used to support staffing or any other ongoing costs)
- As part of the approval process, the College is required to consult with its pupils, staff, and the local community. The College will be collating responses to this consultation and will use them to inform the final disposal applications submitted to the Secretary of State for approval.
The process we are currently going through is part of the process of applying for the Secretary of State’s approval to sell the areas of land identified. If permission is given and the land is sold then any plans for the land will, if required, also need to go through the usual planning process; during this separate process you will also be able to comment on any proposals put forward to the planning authority (South Hams District Council).
Disposing of surplus assets will also enable the College to reduce its financial liabilities and responsibilities. Whilst not in use these assets continue to pose security and health & safety risks to the College and the local community. As an example, the condition of the Elmhirst site continues to deteriorate and would require significant investment to bring it back into service by the College. Ensuring that it is kept secure is also an ongoing financial cost to the College. These resources would be better used to facilitate teaching and learning on the Redworth site.