Kids could be left without classroom due to planning gaffe

Stockbridge Primary. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Stockbridge Primary. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Children at an overcrowded city centre school could be left without a classroom at the start of the next school year – after the council’s own planning department failed to grant permission in time for building work to be completed.

Parents at Stockbridge Primary School have been told two classrooms which were due to start construction during the February half term will now be delayed until after a final planning decision on March 7, sparking fears that they will not be ready in time for the new school year in August.

Ian Perry. Picture: Alistair Linford

Ian Perry. Picture: Alistair Linford

The school’s current P1 class is one of the biggest in the city, with 43 children – and two teachers – squeezed into one classroom. The next intake is expected to be a similar size and without the classrooms, there will not be enough space to accommodate ten classes in the school during the next academic year.

The school, with the council’s education department, submitted an application for the two new classrooms in September, with the plans due to be considered in January.

However, planning chiefs have now informed the education department that they will not consider the application until their meeting on 7 March.

A letter from the council’s schools estate planning department said it had had “assurances” from the contractors, Morrison Construction, that it had “sufficient space within the schedule” to get the work done on time if the school’s planning application is given the green light on 7 March.

But it warned that the council had had to consider contingency plans amid fears that the work will not be completed on time.

Robbie Crockatt, acting school estate planning manager, said in the letter to the school’s head teacher: “A Planning Application was submitted by the design team in September 2017.

“A report from the Planning Officer making their recommendations for the proposal was due to be considered by the Development Management Sub-Committee on 24 January 2018. However, we have been advised that it is now likely that the Planning Officer’s report will not be considered by the Development Management Sub-Committee until 7 March 2018.”

He added: “Council officers, school management and Morrison Construction are working together to consider what measures could be put in place should any further delays occur which would prevent the use of the new classrooms at the start of the new term.”

The letter said the start date for construction would not be confirmed until after permission was granted.

Cllr Ian Perry, education convener, said: “Our development partner, Hub South East, in conjunction with its contractor, Morrison Construction, has advised us that assuming the planning application is approved on March 7, there is sufficient time to deliver the new classrooms ready for the new term starting in August.

“Hub South East have worked successfully over the past five years delivering 17 classroom extensions across the city without delays. We will work with them over the coming months to deliver our shared goal of improving the learning environment for our pupils is delivered.”