Gayton residents back new school, but not its proposed site

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Dozens of residents have backed multi-million pound plans to re-locate a village school, but not to the site officials want to build it on.

Proposals to move the Gayton Primary School to land on the corner of Back Street and Winch Road in a £4.5 million project were unveiled last week.

The issue was high on the agenda as around 60 residents packed into the Jubilee Hall for last night’s parish council meeting.

And, when asked for a show of hands, the vast majority of those present indicated they supported the idea of a new school, but were against its proposed location.

Under the current proposals, the new school would have room for 180 pupils, around 30 more than the current numbers on roll, with the potential to expand to 210.

But resident Geoff Gibling warned the potential scale of forthcoming housing development, which could see up to 150 new homes built in the village, meant even that was unlikely to be enough to meet the demand for places.

He said: “It’s definitely not a future-proof plan.”

Concerns have also been raised about road safety, parking and flooding concerns around the site.

And Mr Gibling was applauded when he said the village’s sewerage system should be fully assessed before any further development is proposed.

But the meeting was told that assessments had shown most of the children who currently attend the school live closest to the proposed site.

Borough councillor Alistair Beales said: “What I’m trying to say to you is they have thought about it.”

County councillor Toby Coke said the current site was one of at least five which had been considered for the project.

He said county council officers were prepared to attend a future meeting to explain the reasons behind their proposals, while a second planning exhibition is also expected to take place in January.

And Mr Beales urged residents to put forward their concerns about the plan as early as possible, so they could be taken into account ahead of that session.

The proposed site of the new school is currently owned by the Gayton Estate, who also signalled their wish to build 80 new homes on land to the west of Manor Farm, close to the school’s current site, last week.

Mr Beales, who is also the estate’s farm manager, said there had initially been interest in building a new school on the Manor Farm site before other options were pursued.

He said that, while the estate wanted to bring forward potential housing developments, they believed that new infrastructure had to be part of the schemes aswell.

Parish council chairman Bob King urged residents to comment on all housing schemes, telling them their views were as important as those expressed by the council.

He also pleaded with residents to respect councillors following recent accusations that members did not care about the village.

He said: “Everyone round this table is a volunteer. We’re no different from you. We just work for the village.

“The last thing we want is for people to resign. We care, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing this job.”