More than £1.7 million for secondary school expansion leads latest round of CIL funding

The expansion of Thurston Community College is among the projects benefitting from home developer contributions across Mid Suffolk and Babergh, after councillors approved the latest round of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) bids.

More than £2.1m is making its way to groups investing in new play facilities, footpaths, car parks, village halls and community gardens thanks to CIL payments – a legal requirement paid by developers of residential sites across the districts.

Every six months, the councils consider the bids made for CIL funding, earmarked for projects to help local infrastructure keep pace with development. The latest allocation is the tenth round of CIL funding and brings the total allocation delivered to the districts to more than £13m since May 2018.

The largest of today’s awards is a £1.78m investment in Thurston Community College, creating an additional 150 school spaces for 11 to 16-year-olds, in order to accommodate the expected increase in school-age children within the catchment area.

Nicki Mattin, principal at Thurston Community College, said: “I would like to thank councillors for approving our CIL bid and enabling us to support students present and future in their learning. Investments such as these are vital for building our new science block and enabling us to deliver the high standard of teaching we aspire to.

“As Thurston grows so does the demand for education at every level, and we will use this latest funding to ensure that our community is one that young people are excited to learn in.”

Also among the other successful CIL bids this round are upgrades to the existing play areas in Eye, Metfield and Wetherden, a new site in Lindsey for a community farm, an extension to the Old Newton village hall, car park improvements at Great Waldingfield Village Hall and Great Cornard allotments, and improvements to the Eye Moors woodland path.

Babergh deputy leader and cabinet member for Planning, Clive Arthey, said: “The breadth of bids considered in this latest round of funding truly highlights the importance of this levy. It can be utilised for so many public resources, and acts as an important tool in the range of options available to the councils to support the organisations that need help. Every project, big or small, contributes to the improvement of our communities. We will continue to work with any groups and partner agencies who can use this funding to affect real change in our districts.”

And Mid Suffolk cabinet member for Planning, David Burn, added: “It is the councils’ vision to make great communities with bright futures that everyone is proud to call home. We know from the quality of the bids we receive for CIL funding that our districts are filled with people that share that vision, and it is our responsibility to enable them with this support. I am delighted to see the future of Thurston Community College made brighter by approving this CIL bid and look forward to seeing the great benefits all the successful bids bring to their respective communities.”

Increase in Thurston Community College student numbers, Thurston – £1,781,462

Today’s awards are led by the major investment in Thurston Community College and the future of young people in the districts. Already the largest school in Suffolk, the £1.78m in funding will create an additional 150 school spaces for 11 to 16-year-olds, along with a new block with classrooms and science labs to accommodate the expansion.

This funding will accommodate the expected increase in school-age children in Thurston’s catchment area as a number of new developments in the area begin to take shape.

There are two phases to the expansion project: the first (which this CIL bid is in relation to) focuses on the building of the new science labs and classrooms – which in turn supports the expansion of student numbers from 1,500 to 1,650 – and the second phase will see numbers expand again depending on the rate of residential growth, potentially to 1,800 students. The new school places in the first phase will be for 11 to 16-year-olds.

The school is already delivering an exemplary standard of education to its students, with the Sixth Form ranked in the top 10% of sixth form providers in England.

The Befriending Scheme – Friends Community Farm, Lindsey – £100,000

Leading the CIL bids in Babergh is a £100,000 award for the Friends Community Farm (pictured above) – currently in Assington but now planning to relocate to Lindsey.

The farm, run by the charity The Befriending Scheme, is the only facility of its type in Babergh and provides opportunities for those with learning disabilities, mental health difficulties, early on-set dementia and other life-limiting conditions to engage in caring for animals, growing fruit and vegetables and developing life skills such as cooking.

The farm’s work with vulnerable adults and children makes an incredible difference in the lives of those it helps, and the planned relocation will enable it to expand the support it offers, delivering a preventative service of intervention before those engaging with the charity reach crisis point.

Oak Crescent play facilities, Eye – £100,000

Eye can look forward to a new and improved play area in Oak Crescent following the approval of a £100,000 to revamp the existing one, which was closed due to safety concerns over the current equipment.

Among the new additions will be an in-ground trampoline, zip line, different types of swings for toddlers and children aged five and over, plus a climbing frame with a slide. All this apparatus will be on resurfaced ground and produced using sustainable materials to ensure it is safe and accessible throughout the year.

These changes are expected to increase the number of visitors to the park, expand the age range of those that can enjoy the park and improve the development of children’s social skills.

Village hall extension, Old Newton – £67,914

The newly approved funding for the Old Newton village hall means the plans for an upgraded kitchen, new bar space storage space can go ahead.

Currently serving a wide range of age groups, from toddlers at playgroup to older members of the community at walking football and bowls, the new kitchen is to be used to attract new bookings for functions like birthday parties and weddings.

Allotment car park improvements, Great Cornard – £55,927.50

Allotment users and the wider Great Cornard community are all excited to see improvements made to their allotment car park. A new tarmacked surface and improved drainage system will be a major improvement to the existing parking provision, making it safer for pedestrians and drivers.

This work will also include new markings for pedestrian walkways and parking bays. The walkways will connect the country park and car park safely, and the new markings are expected to increase the capacity of the car park by as much as 25%.

Great Waldingfield, village hall car park extension – £30,824.92

The extension to the Great Waldingfield village hall car park will result in 10 more spaces for visitors, as well as a dedicated disabled parking provision.

The additional space is expected to reduce the number of cars currently parking on the road close to the hall, thereby reducing disruption for residents.

The plans, which are described as “oven ready”, have been widely supported by the community.

Play Area, Wetherden – £18,375.63

The parish council of Wetherden have secured more than £18,000 for an improved play area in the village. A resurfaced space will be fitted with a four-storey multi-play unit and seesaw, all made with sustainable materials and designed to be easy to maintain, prolonging their lifespan.

Play area, Metfield – £8,788.97

Metfield Parish Council has successfully bid for funding that will see new equipment added to Metfield’s play area and older equipment removed. Replacing the current offering will be a new and improved climbing apparatus, a play train and spring equipment, as well as a new safety surfacing to make the play area safe year-round.

The bid was spurred on by enquiries during the Covid-19 lockdowns asking if the park would be reopened for local children.

Moors woodland footpath, Eye – £5,000

This CIL bid would be used in conjunction with other funding to help improve the Eye Moors woodland path for all kinds of visitors. The construction of the path will use materials which aid accessibility for those with disabilities, or those with pushchairs and young children. The new path will also connect the car park to the new picnic area, and add additional paths to make it more suitable for runners and other staying physically active.

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