Resident criticises ‘crazy’ Gayton school recommendation

Residents of Gayton who are upset at the proposed relocation of Gayton School'Geoff Gibling
Residents of Gayton who are upset at the proposed relocation of Gayton School'Geoff Gibling
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Calls to approve plans for a new primary school and nursery in a West Norfolk village have been branded “crazy” by a nearby resident.

County councillors will meet today to decide whether to grant planning permission for the multi-million pound project in Gayton.

But, although officials have recommended the scheme is approved, resident Geoff Gibling, a long-standing opponent of the project, says now is not the right time to make a decision on it.

He said: “Other issues have now come to light and to make a desicion at this stage is crazy. There are too many loose ends not been addressed.”

Norfolk County Council has proposed to build a brand new school, with accommodation for 210 pupils, plus a 52-place nursery, on land at the corner of Back Street and Winch Road.

The development would replace the existing buildings on Lynn Road, which officials insist are no longer fit for purpose.

The school has been using a number of extra temporary classrooms at the site since it converted from first school to primary status in 2011 and has planning consent to continue using them until 2020.

Members of Norfolk County Council’s planning committee have been encouraged to approve the scheme when they meet in Norwich this morning, as long as no further concerns are raised by the Environment Agency.

The organisation has previously raised objections on flood risk grounds, though planners say it does not oppose the current proposal.

Mr Gibling said new flood risk concerns had now emerged over the capacity of a culvert intended to take water away from the site.

He added that planning permission had also been granted on appeal for 50 homes on land to the north of St Nicholas Close, which was opponents’ preferred site for a new school.

Planning officials have admitted the development would not meet planning policy guidelines and listed the key issues as development of a greenfield site and flood risk.

But they maintain that the need to provide new educational facilities in the village outweighs the concerns raised about the scheme.

Their report to the committee said: “The applicant has considered alternative sites around the Gayton village and has concluded that the site the subject of this application is the only realistically achievable/deliverable site meeting their requirements.”

Public opinion on the application also appears to be split, with the report suggesting letters submitted to the council were divided almost 50-50 between supporters and objectors.