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New school to be built near RAF base - despite fears over noisy jets

PUBLISHED: 07:30 10 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:10 10 September 2020

The Court of Appeal has ruled a new school can be built in Lakenheath after a long legal battle between the parish and county councils. Picture: MASTER SGT MATTHEW PLEW/USAF

The Court of Appeal has ruled a new school can be built in Lakenheath after a long legal battle between the parish and county councils. Picture: MASTER SGT MATTHEW PLEW/USAF

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A new school will be built in Lakenheath after a two-year battle over concerns jets at a nearby military base would disrupt pupils.

Planning permission for the new school with 420 places, in Station Road, was granted in late 2018.

However, Lakenheath Parish Council challenged the decision, claiming the location – directly under a twin track flightpath – was unsuitable.

It argued that the jets would disrupt youngsters, particularly during outdoor classes.

Even though Lakenheath Parish Council gave up the legal challenge prior to this week’s Court of Appeal hearing, former councillor David Gathercole continued to fight the application before he died on August 22, following a long battle with illness.

MORE: Lakenheath primary school plans jeopardised as legal review launched

On Wednesday, September 9, Lord Justice Coulson dismissed the appeal by Mr Gathercole to seek a judicial review of the planning decision.

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In summary, he said: “I consider that the challenge to the decision on public law principles, based on an allegedly inadequate environmental statement, must fail.

“The appellant and the public always received full information and participated in the process for more than three years.

“Moreover, the prejudice if the decision was now quashed would be serious and significant, because it would mean that there was no school, and no proposal for a school, to accommodate the children of those moving into the 663 new homes in Lakenheath.”

The appeal had been launched on the basis that the council had failed to properly assess other sites for the school.

MORE: Lakenheath school row to go to Planning Court later this year

However, the judge said there were no other sites for the school in Lakenheath which wouldn’t have been subjected to noise from the jets.

He added: “The problem of noise for all children, including those with protected characteristics, cannot therefore be wished away.

“The only thing that can be done is to locate and design the school in a way that ensures that the effect of such noise is mitigated as well as it can be.”

A Suffolk County Council spokesperson said: “The council is pleased with ruling and accepts the points raised by Lord Justice Coulson. We look forward to progressing plans for this much-needed school for Lakenheath.”


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