De­ci­sion date for free school

Cam­paign­ers will have to wait un­til Septem­ber

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Jack Abell jack.abell@trin­i­tymir­

A DE­CI­SION on whether a con­tro­ver­sial free school can stay in a vil­lage is set to be made in Septem­ber, cam­paign­ers have been told.

The of­fice for new lo­cal gov­ern­ment min­is­ter Greg Clark has writ­ten to cam­paign­ers in Stoke Poges to tell them that a de­ci­sion on the Khalsa Sec­ondary School in Holly­bush Hill, Stoke Poges will be made on Septem­ber 8.

The Sikh faith school, which is open to chil­dren of all re­li­gious back­grounds, has been op­er­at­ing at the site since Septem­ber 2013 and has had a long bat­tle to re­main there, fol­low­ing op­po­si­tion from peo­ple liv­ing in the vil­lage who be­lieve that it has cre­ated too much noise and traf­fic.

For­mer lo­cal gov­ern­ment min­is­ter Eric Pick­les over ruled a plan­ning in­spec­tor’s find­ings which had said that there were is­sues with build­ing the site in Stoke Poges re­lat­ing to noise lev­els cre­ated by the school.

How­ever, ear­lier this year, he ad­mit­ted that he had ‘erred’ in this de­ci­sion, and that he had ‘mis­in­ter­preted’ and ‘mis­un­der­stood’ the find­ings.

The move meant that the bat­tle for the school’s fu­ture did not end up go­ing to the High Court, as it had been due to, with cam­paign­ers at the time cry­ing vic­tory.

De­spite this how­ever, there is still un­cer­tainty over the fu­ture of the school. Last month the depart­ment for lo­cal gov­ern­ment and com­mu­ni­ties wrote to cam­paign­ers to let them know the de­ci­sion date.

It says: “Hav­ing given care­ful con­sid­er­a­tions to all the rep­re­sen­ta­tions be­fore him, the sec­re­tary of state takes the view that there are no sub­stan­tive is­sues that re­quire an in­quiry to be held. In ac­cor­dance with Sched­ule 2 of the Town and Coun­try Plan­ning Act 1990, the sec­re­tary of state will is­sue his de­ci­sion on or, if pos­si­ble, be­fore Tues­day, 8 Septem­ber 2015.”

Parish coun­cil­lor Saera Carter, who has cam­paigned against the school, said: “We’ve re­ally got no idea what will hap­pen, or had any in­di­ca­tion.

“We will just have to wait and see. Depend­ing on the de­ci­sion, we’ll then de­cide what to do next.”

The school was un­avail­able for com­ment as we went to press.

OB­JEC­TIONS: Cam­paign­ers against Stoke Poges' free school, Khalsa Sec­ondary Academy

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