Houstone School: Opening of new £23m secondary school building in Houghton Regis delayed until next spring

However, the school will open in a temporary building in September

By Euan Duncan, Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 10:50 am
Updated Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 12:15 pm

The opening of a new £23m secondary school building in Houghton Regis is to be delayed until next spring because of problems during the building project .

Archaeological discoveries, drainage issues and a shortage of materials, have contributed to postponing the completion date of Houstone School until next year.

Work was due to be finished on the development on the Kingsland Campus site in time for the new school year, this September.

Pupils walking to a school

A decision to close Houghton Regis Academy in August 2022 triggered the need for a replacement in the town.

Parents have been struggling to buy uniforms for their children and attempting to find out about special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) places from the local authority, according to Labour Parkside Central Bedfordshire councillor Antonia Ryan.

“Unfortunately, I was told today that Houstone School, the new secondary school in Houghton Regis, scheduled to open in September, will see delays on completion,” said councillor Ryan on social media.

Central Bedfordshire Council has confirmed the children will be asked to continue to use the University Technical College of Central Bedfordshire (UTC) premises until September 2023.

“I raised a few months ago whether we were on track and was promised there were no delays. I can imagine this is very upsetting for many parents and children.”

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Central Bedfordshire Council said in an email: “Regrettably, this completion date is now not possible. But the Department for Education has offered temporary use of the vacant UTC building.

“More than 200 pupils enrolled at Houstone School can be educated on the same site from September until Spring 2023, when the new secondary school building is expected to be ready for its first classes.

“The college was closed in 2016, so is still in good condition and was already designed as an educational facility. But parts of it will be revamped so children can receive the best possible education in the most suitable environment possible.

“Several factors have contributed to this change to the build programme. These include materials delays and shortages affecting the construction industry since the pandemic, and some now resolved drainage issues near the boundary of the school.

“Standard archaeological investigations required at such construction projects uncovered Roman, Neolithic and Bronze Age remains, some dating back to around 4,500 years ago.

“This includes an ancient burial site where human remains were found, and a significant amount of pottery, other artefacts and settlement activity,” added CBC.

“These discoveries mark the site as one of historical significance, far older than the Domesday Book, which records the historical name for Houghton Regis as Houstone, from which the school takes its name.

“Further delays are expected before the sports field can be used, as archaeological works are continuing.

“We’re working closely with Advantage Schools, the multi-academy trust that will run the school, about arrangements for attending classes temporarily at the UTC building.

“This update and any further new information will be communicated with parents, residents and the wider community.”