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April 2017 - Monthly Update

A key milestone has been achieved this month with the approval of the Middle Wichel District Centre Design Code which sets the framework for all development in the District Centre and allows planning applications to progress. We have been focussed on progressing the planning applications for the road, canal, secondary school and pub/restaurant through the planning system, as well as working on the design of the first residential parcels.

Activity has started on site with both water voles and great crested newts being moved to protect them from construction, as well as lots of other ground investigation and survey work. The water vole population has been flourishing across the site and we have designed the new eastern bank of the canal with an ecological edge, so we are confident they will return in numbers once the works are complete. We have had to move the water voles during spring to avoid the periods when they are breeding or sleeping, which seems to be the majority of the year!

Over the next few blog posts we will look in more detail at some of the planning applications that have been submitted and speak to those involved in their development.

We are starting this month with the new secondary school which will be the first building to start being constructed in the District Centre this summer. The school will open in September 2019 for year 7 pupils only and will gradually increase its numbers each year as a new year 7 group is added. When the school is fully open there will be around 1400 students including approximately 400 sixth form students. The school will be run by the Diocese of Bristol Academies Trust and will allocate 50% of its places to children of the Christian Faith across the Borough.

I caught up with Linda Culling who has been appointed as the Principal Designate of the Deanery CE Academy to discuss the plans:

Q) Firstly, can you explain what a Deanery is and how the name was chosen?

The name of the school was the subject of much debate amongst the Shadow Local Board of Governors and DBAT’s Central Board of Directors but we finally agreed on The Deanery CE Academy. Swindon itself is actually a Deanery which is a union of church parishes. The name therefore represents the idea of bringing together and as we see a key role of the school as bringing people together and being a central focus for the community, it seemed an excellent choice

Q) What would you say is the most exciting thing about the plan for the new school?

The prospect of creating a distinctively Christian school which serves the local community and builds a culture of hope, excellence and opportunity for Swindon young people.

Q) How will the school be an integral part of the Wichelstowe community?

Not only will the fantastic facilities hugely benefit our young people by providing an inspirational learning resource, state of the art sports and performing arts facilities and unique spaces for worship, it will be a vibrant meeting place for diverse groups, bringing together families and community groups with an all inclusive ethos.

Q) What are the long term ambitions for the school?

To be a highly regarded centre of excellence and hope, distinct in its Christian ethos and a focal point for activities of lifelong learning.

Q) And finally, can you describe the new school in 3 words / phrases?

Authentically Christian, nurturing excellence and serving the local community.

Next Month

Finally, watch out for a significant increase in site activity over the next month as contractors Fox (Owmby) Limited move the mound of soil currently sitting on the future primary school site to prepare the area for construction.