WELLS residents face a wait of several years until their newest primary school can be delivered.

Bovis Homes secured planning permission from Mendip District Council in July 2018 to deliver up to 203 homes on the Priory Fields site on the southern side of Wookey Hole Road, at the north-western edge of Wells.

As part of the development, land was set aside at the south-eastern corner of the construction site for the future delivery of a new primary school.

Nearly six years on from planning permission being granted, Somerset Council has not provided any clarity on how soon any new school will be delivered on this site – including whether it will include any provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The site for the new school was allocated within the Mendip Local Plan Part I, which was ratified in late-2014 – nearly four years before Bovis Homes secured permission to develop the neighbouring land.

The school site has provisional road access from within the Priory Fields estate and can also be reached via the Strawberry Line cycle route to the south, which is gradually being extended to link up with villages to the west of Wells (in addition to an ongoing extension to the east near Dulcote).

In addition to serving the Priory Fields estate, the new school may end up accommodating large number of pupils from the nearby Rose Banks development of 220 homes, which was delivered jointly by Persimmon Homes South West and Taylor Wimpey.

Councillor Ros Wyke, Somerset Council’s portfolio holder for economic development, planning and assets, briefly touched on the status of the school during a report she gave at a full council meeting in Bridgwater on April 23.

She said in her written report: “During the last year, officers in the assets and planning teams have supported the acquisition of a school site associated with new housing development in Wells. with work ongoing to acquire a primary school site to serve the Staplegrove development in Taunton, funded through the Homes England housing infrastructure fund.”

New schools are typically funded by a mixture of council borrowing and contributions from housing developers, either through Section 106 agreements (from a specific site) or through the community infrastructure levy (CIL – where contributions are pooled from multiple different developments).

Somerset County Council previously announced in March 2023 (shortly before its abolition) that it had secured funding directly from the Department for Education (DfE) to deliver a new SEND secondary school in Wells, providing up to 64 places for children ages between nine and 16 drawn from Cheddar, Frome, Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet, Street, Wells and the surrounding villages.

This new school is expected to be up and running by 2027 – but its location has not been specified, nor has the council stated which multi-academy trust will end up responsible for the school.

A Somerset Council spokesman said: “We continue to seek the transfer of the site in Wells from the developer for education purposes.

“School provisions (including SEND) and funding options are currently being explored.”