What has happened to Knaresborough’s new £6 million primary school?
Last updated Jan 1, 2024
Manse Farm school
An artist's impression of the school.

Concerns have been expressed about the lack of progress on a new £6 million primary school in Knaresborough.

North Yorkshire County Council unveiled plans in 2020 to open primary schools in Knaresborough and Northallerton “to serve housing growth”.

The school in Northallerton, where the council is based, is due to open in autumn this year.

But three-and-a-half years after the schemes were announced, no work has begun in Knaresborough. A second proposed opening date of September 2024 looks certain to be missed and no new deadline has been set.

The school, which would predominantly be for children in the new 1,000-plus homes at the Manse Farm and Highfield Farm developments, is supposed to cater for 210 pupils and have the capacity to expand its roster to 420. The plans also included a nursery.

After Knaresborough Town Council expressed frustration at the lack of progress last month, the Stray Ferret asked North Yorkshire Council, which succeeded North Yorkshire County Council in April, why the project was taking so long and whether it would definitely still go ahead.

Amanda Newbold, the council’s assistant director for education and skills, said in a statement the local authority remained committed to the delivery of the project but will “will undertake regular reviews before it is able to confirm delivery”. She did not commit to a new deadline.

Ms Newbold’s full statement is:

“Development works have been postponed due to an overhead electric cable that runs across the land where the new school is due to be built. This is also delaying the developer to some degree.

“A sub-station needs to be built on the land and the cable diverted before the school site can be transferred from Taylor Wimpey to the council.

“The negotiations for the sub-station development are continuing and the parties involved have recently confirmed good progress on agreement of the legal terms. All of these matters need to be concluded before the site transfer of the school land can begin.

“We have no control over these issues, but we continue to put a great deal of effort into encouraging the third parties to resolve them.

“While this is disappointing, it does not change our commitment to the delivery of the project, and the application for the renewal of the planning permission for the new school will be submitted in the new year. As there would be for any project of this scale, the council will undertake regular reviews before it is able to confirm delivery of the school.”

Review needed before final commitment 

The town council’s agenda items for its December meeting includes details of separate correspondence with a council officer who said the cost of the school was likely to be around £6 million. He added that once the land was transferred “a review of the need of the project would be undertaken before a final commitment to proceed is made”.

The town council voted to accept a motion by Cllr Matt Walker, a Liberal Democrat who represents Knaresborough Castle, to invite Taylor Wimpey “to provide an update on the transfer of land at Manse Farm housing estate to North Yorkshire Council so a primary school can be built”.

Knaresborough Town Council’s December meeting at Knaresborough House. 

Cllr Walker said it was disappointing the school had not progressed and he hoped the meeting could help get things moving.

Kit Lacey, a Liberal Democrat who represents Scriven Park, said Meadowside Primary Academy was already at capacity due to new nearby housing developments.

Cllr David Goode, a Liberal Democrat who represents Eastfield, said there had been no progress on a community centre that had also been proposed for the town to mitigate for the impact of new housing developments.

A report to county councillors in September 2020 said the new primary schools in Knaresborough and Northallerton were necessary “to maintain school place sufficiency”, adding they were needed “primarily to serve housing growth”.

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