Controversial school move approved
By Rebecca SheppardA NEW 210-place primary school has been given the go-ahead, despite provoking a wave of opposition.Suffolk County Council's development control sub-committee decided yesterday decided to push ahead with the controversial plan to relocate Woodbridge Community Primary School, currently based in New Street.
By Rebecca Sheppard
A NEW 210-place primary school has been given the go-ahead, despite provoking a wave of opposition.
Suffolk County Council's development control sub-committee decided yesterday decided to push ahead with the controversial plan to relocate Woodbridge Community Primary School, currently based in New Street.
A new school and 39-place nursery will now be built in Pytches Road, Melton, to replace the current building, with vehicular access solely along Wilkinson Way.
The councillors rejected a plan to have an additional dropping off and picking up lay-by from Pytches Road after hearing it would be detrimental to road safety.
Suffolk Coastal District Council has already given the green light to most of the multi-million-pound project that will see the redevelopment of Woodbridge town centre, which will in turn generate money for the school's relocation.
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The town's library will be demolished and moved to the current school site, with flats and houses built on the existing playground. A new surgery will also be built with maisonettes above.
Peter Bellfield, county councillor for Wickham, told the meeting the road congestion and safety problems at other schools would be similar if not worse at the Pytches Road site.
“We are building a new school. We should make sure we do not ignore the lessons at other sites. We are ignoring them if we do not do something to alleviate the problems,” he said.
The Melton Grange Residents' Association has distributed a 96-page booklet to the committee raising concerns about the plan.
Its main objection was it would “not be physically possible to accommodate the expected number of cars without extensive use of illegal and dangerous parking”.
Derek Rothery, from the association, said: “It seems to us that this project that has been in the public domain for half a century is now being rushed through with unseemly haste.”
The committee heard the current Edwardian school relied on some temporary and detached buildings. It has no on-site sports field and all activities are carried out on the separate playing field in Pytches Road.
Caroline Saffell, the county council's assistant education officer, said the new school would be a building for the 21st Century that would provide a stimulating environment and help raise academic achievement.
Speaking after the meeting, Brian Prettyman, the council's estate manager, said: “We are delighted and are looking forward to the next stage of the detail. We realise there is a need for bridge-building with the local community.”
But Mr Rothery, also speaking after the meeting, said: “Unfortunately, it's not the decision we were looking for.
“We are, and always have been, in favour of giving the schoolchildren of Woodbridge decent facilities, but they still must consider the proper alternatives and have a consultation with local people.”