Construction of a new two-storey primary school building, a three-storey secondary school building, and a one-storey, double-height sports hall building and playing fields with associated landscaping, access and parking and demolition of the drama block (Amended description)
The Committee considered a report of the Principal Planning Officer regarding an application for the construction of a new two-storey primary school building, a three-storey secondary school building, and a one-storey, double-height sports hall building and playing fields with associated landscaping, access and parking and demolition of the drama block (Amended description) at Belmont Church Of England Junior School, Buckinghamshire Road, Belmont (for copy see file of minutes).
C Teasdale, Principal Planning Office gave a detailed presentation of the application which included a site location plan, aerial photographs, photographs of the site and a summary of objections received.
The Committee were provided with an update to the report to confirm that the references in paragraphs 109 and 127 to the carpark being behind 10, 21, 14 and 16 of The Links should read 2a, 2, 4, 6 and 8.
The following recommendations were also to be amended as follows:
· Condition 5 to allow construction of the new access to a standard suitable for construction traffic and then completed to full standard prior to first occupation, and
· Condition 15 to also include the lighting for the 3 court MUGA which would also be floodlit.
S Wilmot, local resident, addressed the Committee. He lived next to school and accepted that noise during school hours was expected however the noise would increase with this application and impact on his ability to use his garden.
The noise impact assessment confirmed that a pitch in this location should be avoided. The noise levels had been measured at a point within his garden and whilst it was average at present, guidance suggested it would be increased by the application and there would be even louder elements, such as shouting and swearing.
Mr Wilmot confirmed that bushes would do little to stop the level of noise and he suggested that thought should have been given to the installation of acoustic barriers around the pitch, especially given that four dwellings would have above acceptable limits of noise according to the assessment. There would be some impact from light pollution, although not as intrusive as the noise. The application would impact on residential amenity and whilst it would be controlled in school hours, he was concerned about how it would be managed on evenings and he asked that if additional conditions could not be added, the application be declined.
J Patterson – Associate Director DPP addressed the Committee on behalf of the Applicant. A replacement school in Belmont was needed to ensure that children would receive the highest standard of education within appropriate facilities. The current building was outdated and not fit for purpose. The development would provide enhanced education provision for two schools as well as facilities for community use, supported by both National and Local Planning Policies.
The existing site provided facilities which met DfE and Sport England requirements and the new layout had been designed to enable staff and pupils to remain in buildings on site during construction. Once complete the children would move into their new buildings and the demolition phase would begin before final completion of the sports field, landscaping and car parking. The Applicant had sought to address the principal issues raised, including design and scale, highways, residential amenity and sustainability.
Ms Patterson summarised the design and layout which included a buffer between residential properties. The distance from the three storey building to the nearest residential property would ensure that there would be no impact on lighting or privacy. The retention of existing trees and vegetation would ensure screening and a natural buffer between the residential properties and the site. The use of external flood lighting would be controlled with the lighting turned off at agreed times to minimise impact on neighbouring properties. The Nuisance Action Team had no objection in relation to noise. A transport assessment and travel plan had been prepared in consultation with the school and highways and were deemed acceptable. Buildings had also been designed to achieve net zero carbon.
P Marsden, Head Teacher addressed the Committee to advise that a new school
was essential and long overdue, after years of delivering education in a substandard building. The new school would provide world class teaching and community facilities. The school already had agreements with the Community Association to open up facilities on evenings. He agreed that there was a need for buffering and planting but he had taken on the concerns of residents and wanted to maintain a good relationship with neighbours. Noise would be monitored during day and the school would work with the Community Association to ensure that it was monitored at night.
The Principal Planning Officer appreciated the comments made by residents with regards to noise, however comments from Environmental Health Officers and Technical experts and the report confirmed that they were satisfied. The hours of use had originally been longer but had been reduced in response to concerns by residents and would also be secured by a condition. Another condition included the requirement for a community use agreement which included provision for player etiquette on the pitch. She referred the Committee to an image in the presentation and confirmed there was a 23m distance from the edge of the artificial pitch to the mature hedgerow adjacent to the neighbouring gardens, which varied in length, with some up to 19m. She appreciated the concerns raised however the Applicant had sought to address and minimalise them as far as possible.
Councillor Zair queried the increased hours on Friday and Saturday evenings. Mr Marsden replied to confirm that when the school closed, the Community Association took possession from 5pm. He understood the hours would remain the same as the current hours.
Councillor Zair appreciated investment in schools and if there were issues he was reassured that the school would work with residents to resolve them. He moved the recommendation to approve the application subject the conditions outlined in the report, including the two amendments.
Councillor Hunt was also reassured that the school were willing to work with the community. She noted that of the 152 parking bays provided there were only 8 Electric Charging Vehicle Points. P Harrison, Highway Development Manager, advised that the scheme met current parking standards and although there was an intention to increase standards in future, it was policy compliant.
Councillor Jopling supported the well needed scheme and seconded the motion to approve the application.
Councillor Higgins added that this was a good investment for young people which he would like to see in all towns and villages however he shared the concerns of residents and would have preferred the pitch hours to be reduced. In response to a question regarding the outdoor facilities, the Principal Planning Officer confirmed that the scheme included both toilet and changing facilities. She advised that the proposed hours had been reduced from 22:00 hours on weekday evenings to 21:05.
Ms Patterson confirmed that the hours were based on current community use and highlighted that the scheme was subject to funding from the FA which required a certain amount of community use.
That the application be APPROVED subject to the conditions outlined in the report and amended conditions as follows;
· Condition 5, to allow construction of the new access to a standard suitable for construction traffic and then completed to full standard prior to first occupation, and
· Condition 15, to also include the lighting for the 3 court MUGA which would also be floodlit.
Councillor Martin left the meeting and did not return.