Council on track to fund multi-million private school sports development

Anna Carruthers 30 January 2015

The independent King’s College School has been awarded £125,000 funding by Cambridge City Council to contribute to their newly-proposed £12 million sports hall.

Located on West Road, close to the Sidgwick Site and St Chad’s (second year accommodation for St Catharine’s students), the school’s plans include a swimming pool alongside the sports hall and climbing wall. King’s College School’s application for city council funding was made on the basis that the wider community would be able to make use of the planned facilities.

Their request was initially for the sum of £350,000,to be drawn from the developer contributions programme. However, the figure was revised down to £125,000 by members of the community services scrutiny committee and the west central area committee.
According to a Cambridge City Council document, the money has been specifically assigned to the alteration of visitor changing rooms to improve disabled access.

It is currently unclear whether any Cambridge University or college societies will make use of the proposed facilities. However, there are already agreements in place between societies and King’s College School. Peterhouse student Stevie Collister Hertz told The Cambridge Student that Peterhouse netball team currently make use of the school’s netball courts: “Their facilities are always good quality and the people courteous.”

She expressed ambivalence about the usefulness of the potential new sports development, however, adding: “Whether I would use the new facilities would depend on the price. The University Sports Centre is pretty far away and my college gym is pretty
small, so they could be useful. But we also have Kelsey Kerridge, so we’re not exactly short of facilities.”

Given that the school is a private one, questions were raised by councillors as to the ethics of council funding. The suggested solution was council approval of a specific plan for community usage prior to funding.This position was reasserted by Tim Wetherfield, urban growth project manager for Cambridge City Council, who confirmed that the council would need to approve a community use agreement when more detailed discussions are underway.

Speaking to Cambridge News, Cllr Richard Johnson, the executive councillor for community, arts and recreation, stated: “I know there has been some debate about this from councillors on both sides about making sure the council gets a good deal on the
community use agreement.”

He added: “I think everyone involved wants the community to have good access to this excellent new facility.” Also speaking to Cambridge News, Nicholas Robinson, the headmaster of King’s College School, reiterated that negotiations between the school and Cambridge City Council in regards to the proposed community usage were continuing: “We’re delighted to be in discussions with them over this facility.”