£4.5 million Gayton school re-location plan revealed

Council sets aside four million pounds for Gayton School. Staff and pupils celebrate - headteacher Rachael Greenhalgh (centre back) with teacher Jinhua Du (left) and teaching assistant Jo Antliff. ENGANL00120131118161534

Council sets aside four million pounds for Gayton School. Staff and pupils celebrate - headteacher Rachael Greenhalgh (centre back) with teacher Jinhua Du (left) and teaching assistant Jo Antliff. ENGANL00120131118161534

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Proposals to relocate a village school in a £4.5 million project have been unveiled.

Officials say the plan to move the Gayton Primary School to a new site on the corner of Back Street and Winch Road is vital to help it cope with future demand.

Initial plans were displayed for the first time during an exhibition held at the school on Wednesday.

But some residents have voiced concerns about the suitability of the chosen site and plans for dozens of new homes near the school’s current location.

Since converting from a first school into an all-through primary four years ago, the school has used a number of temporary buildings to accommodate its pupils.

Although it was initially hoped to develop the existing site on Lynn Road, that has now been deemed infeasible.

The new site, which is around twice the size of the current one, is intended to provide a 180 place school, with room to expand to 210 if needed.

The Gayton Goslings playgroup, which also operates at the school, would move as well.

The number of pupils enrolled at the school has risen by around two-thirds since it became a primary.

And headteacher Rachael Greenhalgh said it was vital the planned relocation was “futureproof”.

She said: “With our increasing numbers, the new site will enable us to continue giving the children of our school ever widening opportunities and be the best that they can be.”

But a number of residents who live near the proposed site say they are concerned about traffic safety and the suitability of the site, part of which they claim floods.

One of them, Geoff Gibling, said: “We don’t begrudge the village having a new school, but we think the location is wrong.”

He said two former parish councillors had expressed support for their position.

Neighbour Matthew Earl said he was unhappy that he had not known about the proposal when he moved into his home in May, despite feasibility studies being carried out last year.

He said of the road: “It’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Another resident, who declined to be named, shared the concern about parking, but said the village was “desperate” for a new school.

The concerns have also been intensified by the potential for several large housing developments in the village.

Last month, it was revealed that Freebridge Community Housing is developing plans for 24 new homes at the back of the old Rampant Horse pub, which it has now secured planning permission to convert into four properties.

Outline plans for 29 dwellings on the former Central Garage site on Lynn Road were lodged with West Norfolk Council planning officials on Monday.

A consultation session was held at the village’s social club on Tuesday over proposals for up to 80 homes on land near the school’s current site.

The village’s borough councillor, Alistair Beales, whose daughter attends the school, said he acknowledged there were concerns both over the school move and the volume of housing currently proposed for the village.

But he maintained that was the reason for holding public exhibitions of such proposals.

On the school plans, he said: “I’m delighted there’s going to be improved infrastructure in the village. I look forward to it happening.”

A second consultation event, showing more detailed plans, is expected to be staged at the school early in the new year, before the submission of a planning application.

If approved, work on the new building could start next summer before the move takes place in 2017.

Display boards detailing the relocation plans will remain at the school throughout November. Anyone wishing to view them should phone 01553 636267 to make arrangements.