CONCERN has been raised about the apparent ditching of plans for a long-expected new primary school for Tavistock.

A new school has been promised by planners and the local education authority to cope with the increasing population of Tavistock with young families among them.

The local plan for the town allocates 1,300 new homes for Tavistock and along with them, an obligation on the builders to help fund education provision, for what is a large population increase.

These legal obligations called Section 106 are agreements between the planning authority and, in most cases in Tavistock, West Devon Borough Council or Devon County Council, and the developer.

They are drawn up as part of the the planning permission granted for large housing estates. They are largely financial and involve the relevant authority collecting the agreed amount to fund local services and amenities such as schools or roads.

Graham Parker, former borough councillor and planning consultant, has criticised the lack of provision for a new primary school as a condition in the plan for Baker Estates to build 44 homes on Plymouth Road in Tavistock and to be included in the conditions for other new estates, either underway or completed.

Graham said: “The local plan allocates about 1,300 new homes for Tavistock. That’s an increase in population of about 25 per cent. The county council said that this would need a new primary school from 2024 onward, to be paid for by developers.

“A site is allocated in the Bovis development at Callington Road and the county started collecting money from housing developers – mainly Cavanna at New Launceston Road and David Wilson Homes at Butcher Park Hill. 

“Currently, many of the houses are being built and occupied but the county council now says they don’t have any plans to build the school and have stopped collecting money for it. Local councillors can’t understand this at all.”The issued has also added to the debate about the lack of affordable homes in Tavistock, with no conditions included to address that shortfall, although the Plymouth Road project does include a 60-flat ‘extra care’ building.

Borough councillor Caroline Mott, has praised the Baker Estates scheme because among the planning conditions are agreements to fund highway improvements, along with contributions to health, allotments and a contribution to education, but nothing for primary schools.

County councillor Debo Sellis said the forecast demand for primary school places is ‘forensically scrutinised’ by county officers by studying births, deaths and residency. She said: “There is no plan to build a school if the existing population of children is being covered, which it is. The number of school places are OK.”

She added that the population of number of children is in fact decreasing, while that of older people is increasing. The county council has been approached for a comnment but had not provided one at the time of going to press.