Plans for a new primary school that would provide a “21 st Century education” for pupils have been given the go ahead.
The provision of a new primary school to serve the village of Uplyme has been a long held ambition of the school trust and is included in the proposals map for the Neighbourhood Plan.
Outline planning permission for the new Mrs Ethelston’s CE Primary School on Lyme Road was granted back in 2016, and planners on Wednesday gave approval for the reserved matters application, despite fears over highway safety issues it would cause the village hall and the petrol station.
When granting the permission, planners urged the East Devon Highways and Traffic Orders Committee to look into ways and means by which any impact could be reduced.
Andrea Rice, executive head teacher of the school, told councillors that it was difficult to deliver a modern curriculum on the existing site.
She said: “The site is crammed in and there is no room for us to expand and the usual facilities you would expect in a school are not available. We have no hall for worship and PE and dining is a problem as children have to eat meals in the classroom, and the playground is too small so we have to have staggered breaks.
“We have no green space for children to play in. no space for teaching drama and arts and outside learning, and our ambition is limited by the building.”
Of the 77 comments regarding the application, all but four were in support, with Development Manager Chris Rose saying that the parish council and operators of the Petrol Filling Station opposite both strongly objected to the access proposals and they considered these to conflict with access to and safe operation of the PFS.
He added: “It is suggested that this could result in the closure of the petrol station and associated, post office and store leaving the village devoid of such facilities and it is argued that separate access/egress points serving the school would improve the flow of traffic and provide a more appropriate means of access.
“But Devon County Council, as the highways authority, has considered the application in detail and raised no objections to it, considering the single access/egress point to be the most appropriate option to serve the site and that sufficient information has been submitted to consider the traffic impacts. It is also considered that the proposal would be likely to reduce some of the off-site highway issues relating to the current school site which lacks parking provision.”
Cllr Ian Thomas, who represents the Trinity ward in which the site lies, said: “I have supported the principle of development on this site for a new school to safeguard a sustainable future for 21 st Century education in the village as this isn’t possible in current site.”
Cllr Bruce de Saram said that this was a very positive proposals, as long as HATCO can deliver the safety improvements, and Cllr Tony Woodward said that as outline permission had been given, it was in the neighbourhood plan, and the traffic can be dealt with as a separate matter, it would relieve the issues on the existing site.
The existing primary school has occupied its current site since 1854, and whilst those premises have been extended and altered to adapt to the changing needs in education over the years, it is widely recognised that the increased number of children being accommodated and the requirements of the National Curriculum make it unfeasible to continue operation there indefinitely.
The new single form entry primary school will be able to accommodate 210 children, an increase of 25 on the current role.
An innovative landscape scheme will provide the children with a stimulating environment for outdoor learning and creative play, whilst the provision of an all-weather surface and a multi-functional hall will ensure PE will take place in all seasons.