Essex County Council deals blow to Honywood School homes plans for Coggeshall
PUBLISHED: 10:03 11 November 2014 | UPDATED: 10:03 11 November 2014
Plans to relocate an Essex secondary school and create a housing development have been dealt a blow by County Hall.
Honywood Community Science School, in Coggeshall, had put together proposals with the nearby Marks Hall Estate to create a new school building on estate land at the edge of the village.
The plans included around 300 homes and commercial development on the existing school site and a footbridge over the A120 to new school playing fields, in a move which would provide modern education facilities and income for Marks Hall.
They had been opposed by the Coggeshall Community Action Group.
Essex County Council owns the existing school site and would need to give permission for the academy to take part in the scheme.
However Ray Gooding, county councillor for education, backed a report by officers against the scheme with concerns over its financial viability and the availability of primary school places needed for the new homes.
Headteacher Simon Mason said: “It is very disappointing to see county councillors are not prepared, at this stage, to support our ambitions to improve facilities for our young people’s learning.
“This set back does not prevent an application for planning consent which would be considered by a different group of people, and the work that would go into such an application may well address the current concerns of county councillors.
“However, the school cannot fund such an application which could cost £200,000 or more. Prior to this disappointing news we had found an investor who was willing to fund the application. We are now waiting to see whether this can continue in light of the council’s decision.
“If like us you are unhappy with ECC we’d like to hear from you. Email the school at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will package up all your emails and present these to councillor Ray Gooding who holds the education portfolio.”
A spokesman for Marks Hall said: “The trustees have been made aware of the recent decision by ECC not to support the Honywood Project at this stage.
“Trustees are meeting to discuss this recent development.”
Witham MP Priti Patel said: “This will come as a tremendous relief to campaigners who are concerned about the over-development of the site.
“Honywood is a good school and we all understand their reasons for wanting to improve their site. But everyone will now need to reflect and explore all options to see how the school can best achieve their ambitions in a way which is viable and sustainable for Coggeshall.”