School wins its bat­tle with in­spec­tor

Re­port to sec­re­tary about ex­ces­sive noise lev­els at site of planned sec­ondary is over­ruled

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Jo-Anne Rowney jo-anne.rowney@trin­i­tymir­

A CON­TRO­VER­SIAL free school has been al­lowed to stay in a vil­lage de­spite an in­spec­tor ad­vis­ing against it.

The Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion ap­plied to South Buck­ing­hamshire Dis­trict Coun­cil for prior ap­proval to con­vert an ex­ist­ing tem­po­rary use of Pi­o­neer House of­fice block, in Stoke Po­ges, for per­ma­nent use by Khalsa Sec­ondary School.

Cam­paign­ers raised con­cerns about po­ten­tial traf­fic, noise and con­tam­i­na­tion is­sues, which they put to In­spec­tor Ava Woods at a two-day hear­ing in July.

Mrs Wood heard from both sides be­fore writ­ing a re­port which was sub­mit­ted to sec­re­tary of state Eric Pick­les.

In her re­port, Mrs Wood dis­missed trans­port con­cerns, say­ing the ev­i­dence in the most re­cent traf­fic sur­veys sug­gested there would not be ‘se­vere con­di­tions’.

But she rec­om­mended re­fusal based on noise lev­els.

She said: “Anal­y­sis of ex­ist­ing and pre­dicted noise lev­els, along­side res­i­dents’ ex­pe­ri­ence of the school, leads me to con­clude that their liv­ing con­di­tions would be ma­te­ri­ally harmed as the school de­vel­ops to its full com­ple­ment.

“The mea­sures would do

mit­i­ga­tion put for­ward lit­tle to al­ter that po­si­tion.”

She con­cluded: “On the bal­ance of con­sid­er­a­tions, the ap­peal should be re­jected for the sever­ity of im­pact on lo­cal res­i­dents from noise gen­er­ated by the school.”

How­ever, Mr Pick­les over­ruled the in­spec­tor in a decision an­nounced on Thurs­day last week.

He ac­cepted the scheme ‘is likely to have a neg­a­tive im­pact on neigh­bour­ing prop­er­ties’, but said if the of­fices were fully oc­cu­pied he could not see how this would not also lead to a change in the noise.

In his let­ter, Mr Pick­les said trus­tees of the school and the head­teacher are ‘gen­uinely will­ing to work with the com­mu­nity’ and were happy to in­tro­duce mea­sures to help liv­ing con­di­tions.

He said it would not be rea­son­able to ‘pre­judge’ the suc­cess of the ‘ good in­ten­tions’ as a rea­son for re­fusal.

Mr Pick­les con­cluded: “Although the in­creased noise lev­els ex­pe­ri­enced by the lo­cal res­i­dents as a re­sult of the school’s op­er­a­tion need to be given sig­nif­i­cant weight, they would not be of such sever­ity over and above those gen­er­ated by any other ben­e­fi­cial use of the site.”

See www.get­ uk for re­ac­tion.

Email your views to buck­snews@trin­i­tysouth.

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