Watch: £19.5 million approved by West Sussex County Council for Woodlands Meed rebuild
Parents and campaigners fighting for a new school in Sussex for children promised ten years ago say they are 'cautiously optimistic' after funding was approved.
West Sussex County Council has now committed £19.5 million to provide a brand new building for Woodlands Meed in Burgess Hill.
Nigel Jupp, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said:
"Today’s agreement underlines the Council’s commitment to providing the very best environment to support the education of all West Sussex children.
"After today’s decision we can all look forward to the provision of a new building for the College which meets the needs of all its pupils and staff.
"I am pleased we have reached this important milestone and look forward to working closely with the College’s governors in the coming months."
While the school's younger students are taught at a brand new site elsewhere in Burgess Hill, 14-19 year olds have been left in conditions which the school says doesn't meet the needs of the pupils.
Classrooms are cramped, the school gym is too small for games and has to double up as a lunch room, and in the rain, children in wheelchairs face a journey outside to use the toilet.
The decision today by West Sussex County Council follows years of fighting by parent-led group 'Complete Woodlands Meed' and Governors of the school.
Boo Savage's son is due to go to the college site in 2021.
If work is completed in 2023 he will get to spend three years in the new facilities.
"It's amazing, it's fantastic, it's brilliant news. It's what we've been working towards for four years now."We just really hope West Sussex stick to their promises and there is no glitches along the way.
"We're not fully trusting of them, it's a little bit restored but we will still be there making sure it gets completed.
The college has been here before, last July - after money was finally agreed - the project was stopped and put under review.
Back then the project was due for completion in 2021.
For every year that passes, dozens of children still being taught in substandard conditions.
Marion Wilcock is the chair of Governors at Woodlands Meed,
"It's an important decision and it's one that we welcome. We have been here before and whilst you can be pleased on the one hand, you can't help reflect on the missed opportunities."
"You can't help but be desperately sad for the cohorts that will now have gone through the college who could've benefited from a new building and sadly would not have done.
"We are doing our very best to make sure that what is delivered meets all the needs of our students for the future."