Gayton school could use temporary buildings for another four years

Delays to the proposed construction of a new school on this site in Gayton have prompted a bid to extend the use of temporary rooms at the existing school
Delays to the proposed construction of a new school on this site in Gayton have prompted a bid to extend the use of temporary rooms at the existing school
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Temporary accommodation could be used to educate a West Norfolk village’s children for four more years because of delays to plans for a new school.

Education officials say they are working to address concern about a mutli-million pound plan for a new facility in Gayton.

But they have now admitted that temporary buildings at the current school site will need to be used for longer than previously thought.

It’s now almost a year since proposals for a new school at the junction of Back Street and Winch Road, which could accommodate 210 pupils, were first outlined.

At the time, the project was expected to cost around £4.5 million and be completed next year.

But the estimated cost has already risen to around £5.5 million, and the expected opening has been delayed until the autumn of 2018.

Now, Norfolk County Council’s children’s services department is seeking planning permission to continue using temporary accommodation provided by two modular buildings at the school’s current site in Lynn Road.

The buildings were installed after the school converted to primary status five years ago.

Application documents said the proposal was being made because of what it described as “technical difficulties” with the new school project.

They continued: “Effectively planning permission is being sought for the temporary retention of both buildings for a maximum period of four years, or on the completion/occupation of any new primary school within the village, whichever is the sooner.”

The authority has insisted the move, which was due to be debated at a parish council meeting on Monday evening, is a short-term measure, while issues surrounding the proposed development are addressed.

But it is the latest setback for a project that has provoked fierce opposition in recent months.

In July, West Norfolk Council’s planning committee objected, citing concerns over traffic and the appearance of the proposed buildings, which members described as “institutionalised” and “horrible”.

Residents who live near the proposed development site have also repeatedly argued it is inappropriate, because of concerns over flood risk and increased traffic flows in the area.

And, earlier this year, both the Environment Agency and the county council’s own flood risk assessment unit issued holding objections to the plan for a new school, because of flood risk concerns.

They said assessments of the site had not been done properly and “insufficient evidence” had been provided to support the scheme.

A county council spokesman said this week: “The county council is continuing to progress its plans to relocate the existing school to a new site in the village.

“We are working actively with the Environment Agency to resolve their outstanding concerns.”