Site visit recommended on Gayton school plan

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Councillors have been urged to visit the site of a proposed new primary school in Gayton before they decide whether it should be built.

The call has been made in a new report on the multi-million pound scheme, which is due to be considered by Norfolk County Council’s planning committee later this week.

A decision on the plan has already been deferred once this year because of concerns over potential flood risks.

And the new report, published on Friday, said: “Given the nature of the application, it is considered that a planned site visit would be beneficial to enable members to understand the details of the proposed development, the site and its surroundings and issues raised by both consultees and local residents.

“This would also avoid any further delay when members formally consider the application.”

County education chiefs are seeking permission for a new school, which would accommodate up to 210 pupils, at the corner of Back Street and Winch Road.

The building would replace the current school site on Lynn Road, where a number of temporary structures are currently being used to provide the capacity required since its conversion from First school status seven years ago.

But there have been long-standing concerns among some village residents over whether the chosen site is appropriate for the scheme.

The report shows letters submitted by residents on the application are almost equally split between objectors and supporters.

And the scheme was put on hold in January the day before a planning meeting was due to consider the application, after the Enviroment Agency lodged an objection to it.

The latest report says the agency intervened after seeing a photograph of a culvert on the site which was more than 50 per cent blocked.

The organisation added: “We consider that the model report we previously reviewed and accepted is no longer fit for purpose.

“The drawings and information we reviewed at the time did not indicate a permanent blockage and therefore it was not included in the model or allowed for in our review.

“We suggest that the applicant undertakes remodelling or the culvert is cleared out to allow for full capacity.”

But the applicants say that objection has been withdrawn, and the site re-categorised as a lower flood risk, following further work.

They said: “A thorough technical re-assessment of the site, corroborated by the Environment Agency, shows the site to be at considerably lower risk of fluvial flooding fromadjacent watercourses than previously anticipated.

“As such, the Environment Agency has no objection to the development of the new school.”

The report adds that the height of the proposed building has been raised in order to address flood risk issues.

And the applicants claim they looked at 14 potential sites before choosing the one proposed.

They said: “In our opinion the current site represents the best compromise between numerous vying priorities.”