Gayton school plans opposed by Environment Agency and county flood assessors

The proposed site for the new Gayton School, which has been opposed by the Environment Agency
The proposed site for the new Gayton School, which has been opposed by the Environment Agency
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Multi-million pound plans for a new school in a West Norfolk village do not meet planning guidelines, according to the Environment Agency.

County education chiefs say they are working to address the concerns raised about the proposed development for Gayton.

But the agency has warned it is likely to be a slow process to ensure the plan does meet its requirements.

And their view has now been backed up by Norfolk County Council’s own flood risk assessors.

Although the idea has been in the public domain for several months, a formal application for planning permission to build a new, 210 place school on land at the corner of Back Street and Winch Road was only submitted last month.

The county council says the project, which is expected to cost around £4.5 million, is essential to help meet the current and future need for school places in the area.

But nearby residents maintain that, while they support the principle of a new school, the proposed site is unsuitable for the scheme.

Their main concerns include the implications for road safety created by additional traffic and flood potential in an area that is known to be in a high risk flood area.

And the latter has now been backed up by the Environment Agency, which has lodged a holding objection to the proposal.

In a letter to the authority, Jo Firth, of the agency’s sustainable places team, said the necessary tests and assessments needed to show a development of ths sort could be accommodated in an area of known high flood risk had not been completed properly.

She said a report that submitted to support the application “does not provide a suitable basis for assessment to be made of the flood risks arising from the proposed development”.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman told the Lynn News: “The Environment Agency has submitted full details of their concerns and our agents NPS are discussing these with the agency, with a view to addressing their concerns.”

However, Mrs Firth’s letter added: “It should be noted that, due to the technical complexities of the application, and the fact that there has been no pre-application discussions, it is likely to be a lengthy process when reviewing the information.”

And, in separate correspondence published on Wednesday, Alice Windle, a flood-risk engineer for the county council, which is the lead flood authority for Norfolk, also objected to the proposals.

She said: “Insufficient evidence has been provided to demonstrate the high risk of surface water has been assessed and can be mitigated effectively within the development layout and proposed surface water drainage strategy.”

The county council has previously indicated that it expects building work on the school to start by the end of this year.

It also hopes the finished building will open in the autumn of next year.

But it has so far not commented on whether the project will now be delayed as a result of the concerns raised.