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Sidmouth Primary School could get 60 more pupils if planning permission for new facilities is granted next week

By Will Goddard

25th Aug 2021 | Local News

Sidmouth Primary School site at Woolbrook Road, Sidmouth. Credit: Google Maps.
Sidmouth Primary School site at Woolbrook Road, Sidmouth. Credit: Google Maps.

Sidmouth Primary School will find out next week if it will get planning permission to build new facilities, including a 3G sports pitch and library – and demolish some buildings to replace them with amenities, including a new hall, staff room and classroom.

The Church of England school is currently split across three sites in the town: Manstone Avenue, Woolbrook Road, and Vicarage road. If the works go ahead the school will be consolidated at Manstone Avenue and Woolbrook Road, with Vicarage Road no longer being needed. This should save money and enable the school to accept 60 more pupils. The buildings they hope to pull down are to the west of the play area at the Manstone Avenue site.

The application has been submitted by the chief operating officer of First Federation Trust Carol Chapman, a group with 16 schools across the south coast of Devon which includes Sidmouth Primary.

The final decision is going to East Devon council's planning committee because of concerns raised by the councillors for the Sidmouth Sidford ward, Dawn Manley (Independent East Devon Alliance), Stuart Hughes (Conservative), and Marianne Rixson (Independent East Devon Alliance).

In documents submitted before the meeting, Cllr Manley said the expansion is mostly welcomed within the community. She wrote though of 'major concerns regarding access, parking and safety of children, parents and residents.'

She said: "If this is carefully managed, further traffic misery and chaos could be avoided here."

Cllr Huges believes more street parking needs to be available and that electric vehicle charging points and bicycle storage should be included.

Cllr Rixson said that, in principle, she supports the application, but that a green travel plan should be implemented. She has also asked if more parking and routes for pedestrian access could be provided nearby.

Council officers recommend approval as long as several conditions are met. They say four of the eight new parking spaces proposed for the school grounds should be equipped with electric vehicle charging points and that construction vehicles should only be allowed to enter or leave the site between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 1pm on Saturdays and not at all on Sundays or bank holidays.

The application will go to East Devon council's consultative planning committee meeting on Wednesday, 1 September next week, which will be held online. The council decided last month to hold meetings virtually due to rising coronavirus cases.

As the law allowing councils to meet virtually ended on 7 May, no official decisions can be made online. However, in essence, this does not matter. Once an 'indicative' decision is made by the council on Zoom it is then passed to the chief executive or senior officers who have been delegated power to rubber-stamp the council's decisions. Any decision made about Sidmouth Primary will effectively be the decision of the council.

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