Plans for new school building in Downham Market face criticism

Downham Market
Downham Market

Plans for a new classroom building at a school in Downham have been met with criticism by some of its neighbours.

The proposals to increase the accommodation and replace mobile classrooms at Hillcrest Primary School, which would allow for a larger pupil intake, have been called “unsuitable”.

A letter sent to residents in the area from Norfolk County Council told them of the plans and invited them to an open evening to view them.

It is proposed that mobile classrooms will be removed, and that an extension to the existing building and a new standalone two storey classroom block will be built.

It adds they intend to apply for planning permission by the end of June and, once approved, work is set to begin by the end of 2017 and be completed for autumn 2018.

One resident who has concerns about the plans is Robert Sheridan, who said: “Civray Avenue is a very winding road – which is at the school drop-off and pick-up point.

“Along Civray Avenue and part of Hillcrest, a lot of parents in large vehicles park very close together, which makes it almost impossible to see in between to see if there are any children there.

“Sooner or later I believe there will be an accident. To expand the school in an area which is not suitable would be an error of judgement. It could be disastrous.”

Another resident, Tony Howard, said: “This will increase traffic, but the road can’t cope with what is there at the moment.

“If emergency vehicles need to go down there, I hate to think what would happen.

“As far as I know there has not been any major accidents with children, but the people I have spoken to say it’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Mr Howard also believes that there are design flaws with the new building.

He said: “Whilst only about half a dozen residential properties will be directly affected by the positioning of the new building, it will be close to these properties and at an angle that means they will be overlooked.”

A statement on the school’s website headed “planning – to our neighbours” says: “Due to our rising pupil numbers and the fact that our children have had to put up with mobile classrooms on site for over 13 years, County have finally agreed to give us a new building!

“It will replace the mobiles on site and provide a few extra classes for us to grow into.

“The build will also give us extra playground and parking.”