Kings school plans hit by ma­jor blow

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - KAREN BRIT­TON

PLANS to re­lo­cate Kings School to a new site in Prest­bury have been dealt a ma­jor blow af­ter plamn­ning of­fi­cers rec­om­mended them for re­fusal.

Three sep­a­rate ap­pli­ca­tions - to cre­ate a new sin­gle site school and for hous­ing de­vel­op­ments on its cur­rent two sites - have all been rec­om­mended to be turned down by coun­cil­lors on the Strate­gic Plan­ning Com­mit­tee.

The mat­ter was due to be de­cided at a meet­ing to­mor­row, but the school has now asked for it to be de­ferred.

Bosses from the school say they are ‘dis­ap­pointed’ at the news that plan­ning of­fi­cers at Cheshire East have rec­om­mended the plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions should be re­jected.

The school has sub­mit­ted ap­pli­ca­tions to close its sites at Fence Av­enue and Cum­ber­land Street and re­lo­cate the school to a new sin­gle site on 70 acres of green belt next to its Derby Play­ing Fields in Prest­bury.

As well as an ap­pli­ca­tion for the new school, it sub­mit­ted plans for 300 homes at Fence Av­enue and 150 homes at Cum­ber­land Street, on the West­min­ster Road play­ing fields which form part of the cam­pus.

The plans have also been in­cluded in the coun­cil’s own lo­cal plan, which sets out where houses could be built in Mac­cles­field and sur­round­ing ar­eas up un­til 2030.

But all three ap­pli­ca­tions have been given the thumbs-down by plan­ning of­fi­cers on doc­u­ments re­leased ahead of the meet­ing to­mor­row (Wed­nes­day, May 18).

It is not known when the com­mit­tee will now dis­cuss the plans but the com­mit­tee could still re­ject their of­fi­cers’ ad­vice and vote to ap­prove the plans.

Dr Simon Hyde, head­teacher, said the school will take on board the rec­om­men­da­tions and said a new school at Derby Fields is still the right move.

He said: “We were dis­ap­pointed to learn that coun­cil of­fi­cers in­tended to rec­om­mend re­fusal of the ap­pli­ca­tions for a new school and hous­ing at West­min­ster Road and Fence Av­enue. The School has been work­ing on th­ese plans since 2012, hold­ing pre-plan­ning con­sul­ta­tions in July 2015 be­fore sub­mit­ting a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion in Septem­ber.

“We will study care­fully the of­fi­cers’ rec­om­men­da­tions but re­main con­vinced a new school at Derby Fields will se­cure our po­si­tion as a bea­con of ed­u­ca­tional ex­cel­lence for our re­gion, ex­tend our abil­ity to pro­vide com­mu­nity ben­e­fit and pro­vide much needed hous­ing and jobs for Mac­cles­field.”

Eileen Furr, from the Land East of Fence Av­enue Cam­paign Group, which was set up to fight the pro­pos­als of a hous­ing de­vel­op­ment on Green Belt at Fence Av­enue, said she was de­lighted. She said: “We are ob­vi­ously de­lighted that it has been rec­om­mended for re­fusal. On cur­rent guide­lines and pol­icy they had no choice but to refuse it.”

Mrs Furr has also ques­tions King’s de­ci­sion to have the ap­pli­ca­tion hear­ing de­ferred, and­said un­due weight has been af­forded to the Lo­cal Plan, which is yet to be looked at by an in­de­pen­dent in­spec­tor.

She said: “I don’t know what King’s think they can change that will change the plan­ners mind, they can’t change Na­tional Pol­icy.”

Of­fi­cers rec­om­mended the 150 homes at West­min­ster Road are re­fused due to a lack of af­ford­able hous­ing, a fail­ure to pro­vide for the ex­tra strain on lo­cal schools and lack of bat sur­vey to as­sess the im­pact on the species.

At Fence Av­enue, of­fi­cers said the new homes would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate de­vel­op­ment in the green belt and cited a lack of af­ford­able hous­ing and the ex­tra strain the homes would put on lo­cal schools.

The new school was rec­om­mended for re­fusal due to the im­pact on the green belt, traf­fic and lack of bat sur­vey.

In a let­ter to the coun­cil’s plan­ning de­part­ment, the King’s le­gal team re­quested that the de­ci­sion on the plans is de­ferred.

They said more weight should be given to the ‘en­abling ar­gu­ment’ be­hind the plans.

●● A com­puter gen­er­ated im­aged of what the new King’s School would look like

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