A GROWING Taunton housing estate won’t get its new primary school – because the money has already been spent on a different school in the town.

Summerfield Developments is constructing the Killams Park housing development on the southern edge of the town, which will eventually comprise 315 homes.

As part of the outline plans, a parcel of land off Cutliffe Road in the northern section of the development was set aside for a new primary school.

LNT Care Developments applied in mid-May to build a 66-bed care home on this site instead, with the company claiming that the school plans had “now not been brought to fruition”.

Following reports on social media, Somerset Council has confirmed that a school will not be delivered within the Killams Park estate – and more than £770,000 allocated for this new school has already been spent on the Orchard Grove site.

A local resident made claims about the school funding within the ‘Killams and Mountfields Community Help and Info’ Facebook group.

The resident claimed that the council had “decided to relinquish the site at Killams Park in exchange for money, which was spent on Orchard Grove Primary School”.

They argued that the council believed there were “sufficient places on this side of Taunton” and the developer was within sufficient walking distance of other local schools.

Someset County Council’s education officer stated in 2013 that the town’s primary school capacity “will be exceeded” in the near-future, with several schools being “already over-capacity” and there being “very limited opportunity” to extend existing schools due to spacial constraints.

The officer stated that Holway Park Community Primary School could not be extended to provide the 63 additional places that the Killams Park development was expected to generate.

Under the legal agreement signed between the council and the developer (known as a Section 106 agreement), Summerfield Developments agreed to provide £772,191 if the allocated school site at Cutliffe Road was not required to deliver a new school.

The Taunton-based developer also agreed at the time to provide £831,105 towards new secondary school places in the area and £110,313 towards new pre-school provision.

Somerset Council confirmed that the funding from the Killams Park site had been transferred to the Orchard Grove site, citing a need to minimise external borrowing in the light of rising costs.

A spokesman said: “The key rationale for the transfer of funding to the Orchard Grove project was to offset the amount of borrowing we had committed to the project.

“Our data suggested we had suitable capacity in the Killams Park area.

“The Section 106 agreement provided for the transfer of the land or the payment of a contribution.

“We elected to take a contribution, the contribution has been paid, and therefore the developers have complied with the requirements of the Section 106 agreement – there is no need to vary it.”

Orchard Grove Primary School was first announced in November 2021, at a projected cost of £7.3m, as part of the larger Orchard Grove development of 2,000 new homes, commercial space, a care home and a ‘park and bus’ facility on the A38 Wellington Road.

By the time planning permission was secured in January 2023, the cost of the 420-place school had risen to £11.3m in light of high inflation in the construction industry.

The council confirmed in September 2023 that the school was now projected to cost £12.3m due to the cost of making the building meet passivhaus standards.

A spokesman stated at the time: “We have not had to take away funds from other school projects. Additional Section 106 funding has been sought and additional capital has been committed by the local authority.”

The council said no date had been set for the care home plans to come before its planning committee west (which handles major applications within the former Somerset West and Taunton area) for a decision.