THERE has been “a very rapid growth” in demand for primary school places in Shinfield because developers are building thousands of new homes.

More than 1,590 homes have been built in Shinfield village, Three Mile Cross, and Spencers Wood in recent years as part of the Shinfield Parish major development.

Wokingham Borough Council says there are plans to build 3,000 homes in total.

The council has built Alder Grove Primary School in Shinfield, which opened in September 2020, to ease the pressure on schools but demand is still rising.

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Piers Brunning, the council’s commissioning places specialist, said: “We’ve certainly seen that housebuilding in the Shinfield area has led to a very rapid growth in primary demand in that area.

“We’ve been able to open Alder Grove, but we’ve moved from the position last year where we had just enough places to this year where we needed 30 extra places.

“That’s quite a big proportionate jump for a relatively small area.

“Demand has also risen in Arborfield – not to the extent yet where we need additional capacity – but there’s definitely an upward trend.”

He also said demand for primary school places has also risen in Woodley, but the council has not needed to create additional capacity yet.

His comments came at a meeting of the council’s Schools Forum on Wednesday, October 14.

According to a council report, it did not have to create any additional secondary school places in the last academic year.

It expects demand for Year 7 places to peak in 2023/24 but then fall and says “there is no current indication that permanent additional capacity is required”.

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Mr Brunning said: “We do not think a new secondary school will be required within the next decade, at the moment.”

He also pointed out that the government’s proposed shake-up of the planning system could lead to Wokingham’s housebuilding target being doubled to 1,635 homes a year.

“You can see that over a decade, that’s an awful lot of new housing stock,” he said.

“There’s a potential requirement for quite a number of new school places.

“Covid-19 may have slowed housebuilding – initially it ceased – but the housebuilders are back on site and their telling us that they’ve got significant future build programmes.

“We’re not expecting this to be anything more than a momentary delay.”