Two new Derbyshire schools may be needed due to plans for thousands of extra homes

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Two new secondary schools could be needed in Derbyshire, as a result of potential new housing developments creating thousands of extra homes.

Documents forming part of Derbyshire Dales District Council’s Local Plan preparations – outlining development up to 2040 – includes scope for two new secondary schools in Ashbourne and Matlock.

Ashbourne and Matlock are the two largest settlements in the Dales and as such have been the focus of new housing developments to date and heading into the future.

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Derbyshire County Council, which is responsible for ensuring enough school places are provided to cater for new pupils, has been consulted as part of the Local Plan process.

Two new secondary schools could be needed in the Derbyshire Dales as a result of potential new housing developments.Two new secondary schools could be needed in the Derbyshire Dales as a result of potential new housing developments.
Two new secondary schools could be needed in the Derbyshire Dales as a result of potential new housing developments.

Assessing numerous potential sites in both Ashbourne and Matlock, the authority indicates that two new secondary schools will likely be required.

It says Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Ashbourne is already over capacity for the number of students it can cater for and says Highfields School in Matlock is forecast to be over capacity in the next five years.

Government data currently shows QEGS has a capacity for 1,420 students and has 1,342 on roll, while Highfields has a capacity for 1,394 students and has 1,303 on roll.

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The county council indicates the new schools would be required to cater for new students coming into the area as part of potential new housing developments in each respective town.

The proposed Matlock Wolds housing site, circled in red, above Matlock. Image fromThe proposed Matlock Wolds housing site, circled in red, above Matlock. Image from
The proposed Matlock Wolds housing site, circled in red, above Matlock. Image from

In Ashbourne, it says: “The Derbyshire Education Authority advises that the scale of sites 266 (Ashbourne Airfield) and 764 (Mayfield Road) at a combined size will necessitate an additional secondary school for Ashbourne.

“QEGS is projected to remain overcapacity and its scope to expand has been exhausted through accommodating the sites in the current Local Plan.

“It is noted that there are also at least six significant sites, likely to be over 100 dwellings each.

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“Once the list of sites is refined it will be critical for DCC to understand if the two largest sites are to be developed and if so how a school site can be secured. Also important will be the cumulative numbers coming forward on sites which make it through for further consideration.”

The Ashbourne Airfield site is proposed to include 1,100 homes with the first 20 to be built by 2027, followed by 40 per year from 2028 and 80 per year from 2031 – totalling 860 by 2040.

In April last year, councillors begrudgingly rejected plans for more than 460 homes on the airfield site after major concerns from JCB and a “poor” design, in an aim to send a message that the Dales “will no longer accept mediocre housing development”.

A huge site labelled as “land west of Mayfield Road”, would cover 109 acres from the west of Ashbourne, bordering the tip, and stretch all the way to Buxton Road, close to the junction with Windmill Lane. No detail has been provided for how many homes it could accommodate.

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Assessments detailed by the district council as part of the Local Plan consultation detail that county council officials and consultants hired by the district feel the Mayfield site would have a “significant” impact on the countryside, representing an “extensive intrusion” beyond the settlement boundary.

The county council also says there is no viable access point off Mayfield Road, though it is planning an Ashbourne bypass which would connect to the same route and use the same proposed land in the countryside.

It has been labelled “undevelopable” by the district council, with negatives outweighing the positives.

Meanwhile, in Matlock, the county council says: “Derbyshire Education Authority advise that in terms of secondary school provision, Highfields School is currently projected to be over capacity in five years, due to current housing development.

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“It should also be noted that the academy have reassessed their accommodation and may reduce their capacity.

“The feasibility to expand the school will need to be explored by DCC and a plan agreed with the multi academy trust.

“It is noted that the majority of sites are fairly modest in size and therefore yield, with the exception of 302, 293, 780, 281 and 223 which would appear to represent around two thirds of the housing yield from the 20 sites in the normal area.

“Once a refined list of sites is available, DCC will need to look closely at a strategy for accommodating this further growth in and around Matlock. Note that this comment also stands for the additional sites – 224 and 435.”

The potential developments referred to are:

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  • 302 – land south of Chesterfield Road – 64 houses
  • 293 – land off Brook Lea, Matlock Green – 11 acres (no housing numbers detailed)
  • 780 – Hall Dale, Snitterton Road (east of the quarry) – 14 acres (no housing numbers detailed)
  • 281 – Stancliffe Quarry, Dale Road North – 100 houses
  • 223 – Off Dungreave Avenue, Northwood – 10 acres (no housing numbers detailed)
  • 224 – Gritstone Road/Pinewood Road, known as “the Wolds” – 430 houses
  • 435 – Hall Dale Quarry, Snitterton Road – 220 homes

Plans for 220 homes, a cafe, restaurant, shops and commercial space were approved in Hall Dale Quarry in October last year.

In April this year, the council rejected plans for 423 homes and associated services on the Matlock Wolds site