The school will be built in the ‘Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE)’ between the south of the town and Wood Burcote, and will include a two-storey school building, sports pitches, vehicle and pedestrian access, and car and cycle parking spaces.
Delivering the school was a planning condition for the developers behind the development, which will have 2,750 homes. The county council, which has submitted the planning application, said there was insufficient capacity in the town’s two existing primary schools to accommodate the expected 825 primary age pupils that would be generated by the development.
The application was unanimously approved by members of South Northamptonshire Council’s planning committee on Thursday (December 3).
This came despite objections from Towcester Town Council. Its written submission stated: “The design is dark and imposing and out of keeping in its residential setting. There is inadequate parking provision and this will impact the surrounding neighbourhood.
“Both of Towcester’s existing primary schools suffer from insufficient car parking and the resulting on-road parking has a profound, negative impact on neighbouring residential dwellings and implications for the safety of both pedestrians and motorists. Whilst it’s hoped that pupils of the school will arrive by foot, this can by no means be guaranteed.”
But planning officers at the council stated that the road network in the SUE had been ‘designed to encourage children to walk or cycle to school’ and that they were confident that a ‘large proportion’ of students would do that.
Parking spaces would only be available for staff, visitors and school vehicles. Whilst there would be no parent ‘drop off’ parking within the school site, the
approved plans for the road outside the school include 11 parallel parking bays within the highway. In addition to this, the local centre directly
opposite the site will have a car park with approximately 37 spaces, subject to a future planning application.
Members accepted there were shortfalls with the scheme, but thought the need for a school in the new urban extension was more important.
Councillor Richard Dallyn, one of the three ward members of the area – all of whom sat on the planning committee – said: “After extensive discussions on this and looking at the design, what we have before us is very much more attractive and appropriate than it was at the start. At the beginning it was not something that would have fitted in very well. I do have concerns over the parking and pick-up, and one has to be concerned about the build up of traffic. But broadly speaking this is a good application and there is an urgency for a new school.”
Councillor Martin Johns added: “I have to support this application. It is rather galling though that ward members were pointing out months and months ago that the developer and the county council needed to pull their fingers out to move on with this. I very much doubt now that it will open in September, but we shall see. We must learn lessons for the second primary school which will be put forward for this site.”
The school will include a studio, multi use hall, library, catering kitchen, specialist practical room, hygiene room, and sanitary and staff areas.