A new secondary school for children living in West Sussex has been given the green light with planning permission.

West Sussex County Council and co-applicant Homes England’s plans to create a zero-carbon school were approval by Mid Sussex District Council’s planning committee on 15 December 2022. Committee members praised the ‘excellent’ and ‘unique’ designs before voting unanimously in favour.

The ambitious design will allow the school to generate its own renewable energy on site without using any fossil fuels. It aims to be the first school in West Sussex to achieve Passivhaus certification, the highest standard of energy efficiency a building can reach, and offer excellent educational facilities to 900 local children.

The school will be created at Homes England’s new Brookleigh development near Burgess Hill to provide a high-quality education to families of the 3,500 homes and the surrounding area.

Nigel Jupp, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Learning and Skills, said: “Planning approval marks a major milestone in our ambition to create an environmentally-friendly and high-quality new secondary school in Mid Sussex.

“It is uniquely designed to achieve Passivhaus certification and lead the way in energy efficiency. In addition, Brookleigh families will be able to walk or cycle to their new place of education, again demonstrating the County Council’s commitment to significantly reducing carbon emissions as part of our Climate Change Strategy.

“By creating this modern and high standard school, we are investing in our children’s future and in the long-term future of our county.”

 

Graham Hyslop, Homes England’s Project Director, said: “Homes England is committed to providing new schools as part of a truly sustainable community at Brookleigh. This planning approval is great news, and we’ll continue to work closely with West Sussex County Council and the University of Brighton Academies Trust as the ambitious design is built.

“In order to further support low-carbon lifestyles and traffic-free commutes to school, we’ll be providing a network of walking and cycling routes at Brookleigh. These routes will link new homes, schools, parks and shops and make active travel an easy choice for families.”

West Sussex County Council has approved capital funding of £57.060m to build the secondary school, making it the largest capital project the council has delivered. This includes a £18.159m contribution from Homes England as part of the overall development.

The new secondary school is being delivered through the County Council’s multi-disciplinary consultancy partnership with Faithful+Gould, Atkins and Cundalls leading on the design.

The school will include a Special Support Centre enabling children with special educational needs and disabilities to be supported to learn in a mainstream school.

Net-zero in operation, the building has energy efficiency at the heart of every area of its design. Its position will provide maximum sunlight to nearly 1,000 solar photovoltaic panels generating an estimated 296,000 kWh of energy a year. The LED lighting will be controlled automatically by daylight and movement detection. The main building will have fresh air ventilation, keeping the school a comfortable temperature, even in extreme heat.

Richard Christmas, lead designer at Atkins, said: “This is a really positive step forward for the proposed school which has been designed to promote well-being and educational attainment for all learners who use the building and create a project with a low environmental impact.”

The University of Brighton Academies Trust will run the new school as part of an ‘all-through’ primary and secondary school named The Bedelands Academy. The primary element is being developed and funded separately by Homes England on a nearby site.

Dr John Smith, University of Brighton Academies Trust Chief Executive, said: “The Trust is delighted to be part of this exciting development that places children’s education, well-being, and sustainability at its heart.

“Planning approval is excellent news. It marks a positive step forward and brings us closer to welcoming a new state-of-the-art, zero-carbon school into our family of academies that enrich the lives of many local children.

“We look forward to continuing to work closely with partners involved in delivering this ambitious project.”

 

Councillor Robert Salisbury, Mid Sussex District Council Cabinet Member for Planning said: “Securing planning permission for this new secondary school is tremendous news for Burgess Hill residents and is a step towards the delivery of another important piece of infrastructure to support the sustainable growth of the town.

“Throughout the Brookleigh development essential infrastructure improvements are being delivered at an early stage, with work to expand the road network, improve sustainable transport infrastructure and deliver this new school underway both before and alongside the construction of new homes.

“The plans for this new school look fantastic and it will provide high quality educational facilities for children living in the local area.”

Everyone involved is working towards the new secondary school being completed and open to its first students in September 2025. It will open as a four-form of entry school, first welcoming around 120 year 7 students and grow each year with a new year 7 intake, eventually accommodating 900 pupils.

Mid Sussex District Council’s planning committee approved reserved matters planning permission for the designs on 15 December, having previously approved outline planning permission.

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