Sixth form centre gets the go-ahead
A new £3-million sixth form college on the edge of Bath has been approved.
Politicians on Bath and North East Somerset Council development control committee were almost unanimous in their support of the application to build a joint sixth form centre for St Gregory's Catholic College and St Mark's Church of England School.
The sixth form building, to be built on land off Combe Hay Lane opposite St Gregory's in Odd Down, will accommodate an additional 250 students and eight staff.
Students from both schools, which now share a head teacher in Raymond Friel, were present at the council meeting at which councillors decided the application.
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Children from Catholic families can often move on to St Brendan's sixth form college at Brislington.
St Mark's student Sam Norman said: "Our new sixth form will keep more students from our school in the local area. The students have been fully consulted and the vast majority have said we want this kind of sixth form."
Hannah Keegan, from St Gregory's, said the sixth form development would improve the safety of roads around the school.
The project would change traffic flow on Combe Hay Lane. A loop access road between the sixth form and the lane would be created to accommodate parking for four coaches and 14 cars.
The application was challenged by Councillor Nick Coombes (Lib Dem, Bathwick).
Mr Coombes said: "I don't believe there is a case for the need of sixth form spaces to such an extent that it makes a special circumstance for building in the green belt."
Last year B&NES Council allocated £2 million of capital funding for the new sixth form, having already committed £400,000 for the purchase of the land. The rest of the money was provided through the dioceses of Clifton and Bath and Wells.
Mr Friel said: "This is an historic moment. We can now proceed with our plans and open a new type of sixth form for the area. We will have the highest commitments to academic standards and pastoral care, as you would expect, but unlike any other sixth form in the state sector in this area, we will have a Christian foundation."
The sixth form building is the first phase in a development which could also include a performing arts space providing teaching and performance spaces available for community use outside of school hours.
The sixth form is expected to be open in time for next September. For more information visit, www.newsixth bath.org.uk