High court bat­tle for school site

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

A PARISH Coun­cil is set to re­turn to the High Court for a se­cond time in a land­mark bat­tle with the gov­ern­ment over a free school.

Stoke Po­ges Parish Coun­cil (SPPC) will chal­lenge a de­ci­sion to al­low Khalsa Sec­ondary School in Holly­bush Hill to be built, with the case to be heard on Tues­day July 12 and Wed­nes­day July 13.

Both SPPC and South Bucks District Coun­cil (SBDC) re­fused plan­ning per­mis­sion for a sec­ondary school to be built three years ago, a de­ci­sion which was up­held by the Plan­ning In­spec­torate.

The for­mer Sec­re­tary of State for Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, Eric Pick­les, over­ruled that de­ci­sion, be­fore over­turn­ing his own de­ci­sion in March last year af­ter ad­mit­ting he ‘erred’ in al­low­ing the school to stay.

But in a blow to cam­paign­ers, in Fe­bru­ary cur­rent com­mu­ni­ties sec­re­tary Greg Clerk al­lowed the school to stay on the site.

Open to chil­dren of all re­li­gious back­grounds, the school has bat­tled with op­po­si­tion from peo­ple liv­ing in the vil­lage who be­lieve the it is wrongly lo­cated, caus­ing too much noise and traf­fic.

Peo­ple have also raised con­cerns that the school is ‘il­le­gal’, as the cur­rent plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion is tem­po­rary and ex­pired in July 2014, with Bea­cons­field MP Do­minic Grieve say­ing he is ‘sym­pa­thetic’ to the parish coun­cil.

It is said to be the first case of its kind chal­leng­ing the gov­ern­ment’s Free School Pol­icy and the court will hear sep­a­rate chal­lenges from SPPC and SBDC.

Lead­ing cam­paigner and vice chair­man of SPPC Saera Carter said: “We are de­lighted that we fi­nally have a date in the High Court for the vil­lage of Stoke Po­ges to have its voice heard.

“The Gov­ern­ment has com­pletely ig­nored the per­fectly fair and rea­son­able ar­gu­ments against sit­ing a Sec­ondary School in this beau­ti­ful Green Belt Buck­ing­hamshire vil­lage, and we look for­ward to be­ing able to present our case to a Judge – whom we trust will agree with the District Coun­cil and the Plan­ning In­spec­tor to refuse prior ap­proval for this school.”

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