Shropshire Council has applied for planning permission for a modest expansion of St. Laurence’s Church of England Primary School (22/00158/FUL). The school was built in 1991 to the standards of the day. The alterations will create learning spaces that are more in line with current DfE recommendations.

Two cramped classrooms will be increased in size, providing safer and more suitable spaces for learning, along with a larger support space. The project will also provide an improved and safer circulation in this part of the school building.

This is a welcome project. The aim is not to provide additional school places but to improve the learning environment for current school numbers.

Any need to increase the capacity in Ludlow’s primary schools to take on extra pupils from the new housing being built within and on the outskirts of Ludlow in the coming years will be reviewed in the autumn.

New works in red

Ludlow has a single catchment area served by two primary schools on three sites. The combined capacity of the schools is 720 (St Laurence’s 210, Ludlow Primary – infant site, 210 and junior site, 300).

Shropshire Council is forecasting the following numbers of pupils for 2023: St Laurence 222, Ludlow Infant 175 and Ludlow Junior 251. It is expected there will be 72 unfilled primary school places in the town in 2023. With current housebuilding commitments, there are expected to be an estimated 50 unfilled primary school places through to 2036, though such forecasts so far into the future for children who are not yet born is very hard to assess. Shropshire Council takes the view that there is currently no requirement to expand primary school provision in Ludlow in the next few years but will keep the numbers of pupils likely to be yielded from local housing developments under regular review.

These estimates need updating. They consider the current expansion of the town as identified in the current Shropshire Local Plan. But the new Local Plan, currently waiting for examination and approval by the planning inspectorate, will add another 146 dwellings. A countywide review of projected school numbers will take place in the autumn.

The new build at St Laurence’s Church of England School will in character with the existing building. Once the Southern Planning Committee has given permission for the scheme – and I expect no difficulty with that – work will begin in summer 2022 and will be completed by Christmas 2022.

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