Uncertainty over future of school sixth form centre
Confusion over who will use a planned new sixth form building at a Suffolk high school has forced the plans to be delayed.
Stowupland High School plans to build a two-storey sixth form block on the edge of the school's playing field, as well as creating new car and bus parks. Suffolk County Council's development and regulation committee had been advised to green light the plans, with Karen Grimes, chief executive of the John Milton Academy Trust, saying it would create space for an expected rise in pupil numbers, especially in the 11 to 16 age range. She added the development would bring benefits to students at the school as well as for the wider community and local businesses. However councillor Keith Welham, vice-chairman of Stowupland Parish Council and district councillor for the area, said there was confusion over whether the application was for a sixth form block, or if it was in fact an extension of the whole school. He said: "The officers have written their report on the basis that the application is for a building to accommodate sixth formers. Now it appears to be for 11 to 16-year-olds. "If that is the case, it needed a fresh consultation and no decision can be made today." The committee voted to defer a decision on the plans. Mr Welham added: "We were told last week that the proposal includes a parents' drop-off and pick-up area. "If this is used by the 200 or so parents currently dropping off in various parts of the village, their cars plus buses and staff cars will cause even longer queues on A1120 and around the school site." A spokesman for the Academy Trust said: "As a trust, we remain fully committed to providing the best possible 11-18 provision at Stowupland High School and we will continue to work alongside Suffolk County Council officers to address any concerns from the local community relating to the proposed project. "The new sixth form block has enormous benefits for students, the local community and local businesses and employers and we look forward to the plan moving forward in the near future."