Exasperation as Richmondshire schools miss out on 106 funding from housing developers

The site of proposed new housing in Catterick Garrison.

Richmondshire’s council leader has spoken of her exasperation amid claims education bosses turned down the chance of hundreds of thousands of pounds of school funding from housing developers.

Members of Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee joined Councillor Angie Dale in questioning decisions by North Yorkshire County Council’s education department that the meeting heard would see schools in Richmondshire miss out on more than £300,000 of potential section 106 funding.

The committee agreed to write to the county council calling for answers as to why it had not asked housebuilders to contribute towards schools in Catterick Garrison and Hipswell, where new estates would lead to rising pupil numbers.

Department of Education guidance published this month states it “expects local authorities to seek developer contributions towards school places that are created to meet the need arising from housing development”.

Cllr Dale, who is also a primary school chairman of governors, said: “North Yorkshire County Council is again not asking for educational fees. Zero.

“I personally think this council should be writing to them because we fought so hard for school places, for additional places within schools, we should be asking them why do they not need the contributions.

“Our secondary school down the road could do with updating.”

The government guidance states developer contributions for education are intended to help fund the supporting infrastructure needed to address “the cumulative impact of development across a local authority area”.

It states the contributions can be used to fund the provision, improvement, replacement, operation or maintenance of a wide range of infrastructure, including education.

Cllr Dale said: “It is imperative that we do something about this. £300,000 is a lot of money. Can it not be transferred into some of our rural areas?

“I know the answer will be potentially no, but to say no to our children’s education when we fight so hard to have good schools and improvements, as a chair of governors I am absolutely incredulous.”

Judith Kirk, the county council’s assistant director for education and skills, said the authority had a standard approach for determining whether or not a developer contribution was due and whether a school was run by the council did affect that.

She said: “We assess the available capacity of all schools in a local area and determine if the impact of a development would create a shortfall of school places or not. We will always seek developer contributions wherever possible.

“However, if the development can be accommodated within the existing capacity of the schools then we cannot make a case for section 106 funding as there would be no legal basis for doing so.

“In this particular case, the opening of the free school, Cambrai Primary School, in September, means that included in our calculations are additional primary school places which we did not have previously.

“Currently there are also spare places at Risedale secondary school and this will be kept under review.”