Councillors back Codicote school’s plans for classrooms and playing field

PUBLISHED: 14:59 26 September 2020

Councillors approved a new classroom block and playground at Codicote Primary School. Picture: Kevin Lines

Councillors approved a new classroom block and playground at Codicote Primary School. Picture: Kevin Lines

Archant

Plans for a new classroom block and playing field at Codicote CoE Primary School have got the go-ahead – despite residents’ concerns about traffic and parking.

Councillors approved a new classroom block and playground at Codicote Primary School. Picture: Kevin LinesCouncillors approved a new classroom block and playground at Codicote Primary School. Picture: Kevin Lines

The school – which currently takes 30 new pupils a year – does not have enough places to accept all the children in Codicote village.

To meet demand in previous years, the school has accepted ‘bulge’ classes with the addition of mobile classrooms.

But education officials – who point to plans for 315 new homes in the area – say there is no room on the site for more mobile classrooms, and this year there were 11 children from the village who could not get a place at the school.

The proposals for the school include a single storey classroom block, a front extension to the existing school and the creation of a new playing field – allowing the school to double its annual intake to 60 pupils a year.

On Thursday (September 24), a meeting of the county council’s development control committee backed the plans and granted planning permission.

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Councillors heard that the new block would include eight classrooms, with a raised atrium to maximise natural sunlight and facilitate passive heating, which would be linked to main school building by a covered walkway.

And to compensate for the loss of space on the existing site, a neighbouring agricultural field – which sits within the Green Belt – would become a school playing field, and would be surrounded by a fence. A public footpath that runs between the school and the field will remain as a public right of way.

In response to the plans, Codicote Parish Council had suggested that the school places forecasts were too low – and had highlighted concerns with the increase in vehicles and traffic congestion.

Some residents had raised concerns about parking during ‘drop-off’ and ‘pick-up’ times, that the existing roads were too narrow and that there would be an increase in congestion and air pollution. And some had also suggested that the extension of the school site into agricultural land to create a playing field would be an “inappropriate” use of the Green Belt.

But at the meeting planning officers told councillors that, on balance, the benefits of the proposal ‘clearly outweigh’ the harm to the openness of the Green Belt, as well as any impact on residential amenity and highways.

The committee heard that in response to concerns there were plans for highways measures – including 20mph speed limits on Hill Road, Meadow Way and sections of St Albans Road. There are also plans for ‘H bars’ across residential driveways and ‘no waiting’ markings at junctions close to the school.

Committee members were also told that the majority of children live within 1km of the school and that an expectation of sustainable transport was reasonable.

Members of the committee unanimously voted to back the plans, with the addition of further consideration of verge protection.


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