by Tony Bellows
IN September, the Consultation for the new site for Les Quennevais School was officially launched. In October and November, meetings were held at the school and Parish Hall respectively to explain the proposals and elicit feedback from the public.
La Baguette attended the October meeting, where Director of Education Justin Donovan, lead architect Barry Freeman, and Head of Les Quennevais, Sarah Hague explained the reasons why a new school was needed, and the different sites available.
The meeting was chaired by Constable Steve Pallett, and Education Minister Rod Bryans arrived later, having been delayed by a lengthy States sitting.
Justin Donovan explained that this was a genuine consultation, seeking the views of the general public on the sites chosen, and also for suggestions on attendant problems like traffic management. As yet, no detailed plans had been drawn up, as this would depend on the site chosen. Once chosen, detailed plans for the school would be submitted to Planning and there would be a further opportunity for the public to comment.
Head Sarah Hague explained why a new school was urgently needed. School numbers were currently about 700 pupils, but the school hall could only seat 280, which meant that for whole school assemblies, a room at the Sport's Centre would need to be hired. The canteen seated only 70, so that most pupils had to bring sandwiches, and eat in classrooms.
The green glass cladding the outside of the building merely disguised a decaying 1960s building under a modern veneer, which was badly heated in winter, and badly ventilated in summer. Although designated a school for disabled children, access was poor, with some split landings, and one lift coming up inside a classroom.
Lead architect Barry Freeman explained that of 18 sites considered, just three were feasible. Site one involved building on Les Quennevais sports field with loss of community facilities, and access via Don Farm Housing Estate. Site two would involve the States buying land, which is currently green zone . Site three would use extra land, but also build on football pitches of St Brelade's Social Club, and the club could lose their club house.
Both site one and three would mean loss of community amenities, while site two might actually soften the landscape as the school would be set back from the road and screened by foliage. Other speakers highlighted that traffic was an issue and traffic management would need to be addressed carefully, either with some kind of filter in turn or roundabout
The general consensus of the meeting was summed up by former Constable Enid Quenault, who opted for site two as the best of the options available. Mrs Quenault also explained that 6 months ago, she would have rejected that option, but the building of Andium Homes meant that the whole area had become more urban and that the proposed landscaping of the school had allayed her concerns that the site might appear stark and uninviting.
The consultation ended on the 8th November, and Education Minister Rod Bryans said he was confident a decision would be taken by the end of the year.