Houghton Regis Academy May Close - New Build To Be Proposed by CBC

At the Central Bedfordshire Council meeting on 26 September 2019, Cllr Susan Goodchild raised a query with regard to Houghton Regis Academy:

Cllr Pat Hamill also raised the matter:

Prior to the meeting, Central Bedfordshire Council responded to news that Houghton Regis Academy may close. And next month they are proposing that work is started to build a new secondary school on the Kingsland site at Parkside. Below their response is the letter sent out by the Greenwood Academies Trust.

Cllr Sue Clark, Executive Member for Families, Education and Children said: “The Greenwood Academies Trust have announced their decision to apply to close Houghton Regis Academy and the Secretary of State has agreed to a listening period, or consultation, on this. The likelihood of closure of the academy has accelerated the need to bring forward building a new school and we will be seeking authority to progress with this on the Kingsland campus at Executive next month.”

Cllr Clark continued, “Previously we have been unable to progress the new school as there were already sufficient school places for our children in existing local schools. Of course, potential closure is unsettling for everyone affected by it.  As a Council, we are doing everything we can to help.  Our aim is to support Houghton Regis community by advising the DfE that Houghton Regis Academy should not close until we can lead on building a new school, thus keeping the children together until their new school is built.”

Letter from Greenwood: (tap to enlarge).


A section 106 agreement was drawn up between the Central Bedfordshire Council and the HRN1 (Linmere) developers under application CB/12/03613 to provide funding towards a secondary school. Secondary school funding was to be provided based on the number of houses constructed. These houses have yet to materialise.

Cllr Pat Hamill

First reaction from Cllr Pat Hamill, CBC councillor for Tithe Farm,  “We have been through this as a community in 1983 as Houghton Regis Upper School and we fought as a community to save what this town deserved, only to lose the school then called Kingsland in 1999 displacing our children to schools in Dunstable, Luton, Harlington and Hemel Hempstead as a result of an attack on our community yet again followed by our fight to keep our swimming pool and leisure facilities. Why should we always fight for what we deserve? Why Houghton Regis?

This Town is on record as being deprived in many area's and now Houghton Regis Academy is to go the same way.

What is CBC doing to our Town? I will hopefully be having my say tonight at full council. Its not our fault that they have drenched our Town in housing developments without considering the consequences of the plans put before the DMC and allowing developers to raid our green belt with impunity. It is still going that way as some of your councillors are fighting to stop the tide of developers greed at your expense.

No secondary education in a town that is set to double in size is criminal in my book. This affects the very well being of communities that are trying to rebuild a town fit for purpose. This is a step too far and we must now ensure that CBC fight hard to retain this school until a smooth transitional period can be put in place once the new school is built and we had better get a new build. Watch this space.”

Proposed New Build

The Executive Committee of Central Bedfordshire Council will meet on 8 October 2019 (agenda). Item 9 of that meeting says:
“Schools for the Future - Commissioning of a New 10 Forms of Entry
Secondary School on the Kingsland Campus, Houghton Regis, through the
Free Schools Presumption Process
To advise that a new secondary school is required in Houghton Regis to meet
the demographic growth forecast and the need to meet a forecast deficit in
secondary school places and to seek approval to proceed under the Free
School Presumption process for a new 10 forms of entry secondary school
(with a two phased build).”

Within the details of the agenda item: “recommend to Council an additional net £8.2m of Council funding in the Capital Programme, to enable the commencement of capital expenditure. ”
“It is not forecast that the full 10 forms of entry will be required by 2022 and the proposal is for the school to open over two phases, with the second phase subject to the rate of further demographic growth in the area.”

“The local authority is responsible for providing the site for the new schools. In this case, it is proposed to use the Kingsland Campus in Houghton Regis as the Campus is an existing education provision and in the ownership of the Council. There is no alternative education site secured under s106.”

“The new school is expected to be built over two phases. Phase one (6 forms of entry) is needed by 2022 and the subsequent phase (4 forms of entry) is subject to demographic growth from the new developments. Phase one is projected to cost in the region of £20.1m and phase two £16.6m.”

“The s106 secured for the Linmere development and HRN2 totals £28,793,056 and the Council will seek funding for the balance of £8,206,944. Further discussions will be undertaken with the DfE and the Council’s contribution will be reviewed continuously subject to a favourable basic need announcement. Based on an estimated build cost of £37.0M funded through a combination of £28.8M developer contributions and £8.2M Council contribution, the revenue implications for the Council’s General Fund and Council Tax is an estimated £260K p.a. over 50 years.”

Statement from Cllr Toni Ryan

On 28th September, Cllr Toni Ryan issued a statement on her local party Facebook Page, where she commented  “From a personal note, I understand that this is very upsetting news which has left teachers, families and pupils with a high level of uncertainty. Whilst this matter has been beyond my control I would like to sincerely apologise for any worry or stress that this may have caused. However, I can assure you that I will do everything that I am able to do within my capacity to ensure the best outcome for children and young people within our community, and that going forward the education programme provided to Houghton Regis will be one that our children and young people deserve.”

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