Recommendation: Conditional Approval
Proposal: Application for the approval of Reserved Matters pursuant to Outline
planning consent O/2014/2242 for the erection of a new Community, Primary and Nursery school building with associated access off Road 24, parking and landscaping including the provision of playing fields and hard court play area. Appearance, landscaping, layout and scale to be considered.
Applicant: Wokingham Borough Council
The Committee received and reviewed a report about this application, set out in Agenda pages 51 to 82.
The Committee were advised that the Members’ Update included:
· Proposed amendment to condition 15 regarding art features and signage, and
· Proposed additional condition regarding access to parking spaces.
Robert Millen spoke against the application on behalf of the Emmbrook Residents’ Association. He stated that the Association had two main concerns, namely external noise and the net space. The former would exceed permitted levels and the latter was below standard if the school was to become 2 form entry.
Piers Brunning, Wokingham Borough Council, applicant, spoke in favour of the application, explaining the background of the application and how it fit into the wider development at Matthewsgreen. He stated that the 21% shortfall in space only applied to the outdoor soft play area and, if omitting the floating area that was recommended in school design, was 9%. He confirmed that the current proposal would be acceptable and comply with the Department of Education guidance for schools.
In response, the Case Officer stated that acoustic data showed noise would be within required limits internally. Externally, the negative impact of noise-mitigation measures that would need to be taken to bring the noise levels down to those required would outweigh the reduction in noise levels. It was not anticipated that the external areas would not be used during peak noise times.
In response to Member queries regards parking, the Service Manager, Highways Development Management, stated that there is a condition securing a parking management plan that would need to be submitted and approved by the Council and measures within this would be considered alongside the School Travel Plan. The barrier that separated staff parking from the rest of the parking would be managed by the school with controls for its use being secured within the Parking Management Plan. Parking controls will be in place to prevent parking on the Northern Distributor Road and options for this are currently being reviewed. The number of spaces allocated to the school met Council standards for a 2-form entry school. The Council was pro-sustainable travel and new developments within the borough incorporate this. The school had to meet targets as part of its travel plan and would work with the Council to achieve this.
In response to Member queries regarding the shortfall in space relating to the two form entry school (2FE), the Service Manager, SDL Planning Delivery, explained that the land was owned by the developer and that there is no land available to increase the size of the school. Any additional land would have to be acquired from the developer at market rates (that is residential land value) as the development is only required to mitigate its own impacts, in this instance a single form entry (1FE) school. This needs to be considered against the fact that there is no certainty that the land would ever be required for education use in the future. The school would also be able to make use of the public open space land and the neighbourhood play area located directly adjacent the school site. . The current application was for a single form entry school however with the capacity to be converted to two-form entry if need arose in the future. The intention being that this would not need a second application. The decision to allow expansion of schools was taken by the Council after the SDL’s were adopted but this need would be taken into account for future sites. The current application had been approved by Education colleagues and the Department of Education.
Councillor Angus Ross proposed that the application be deferred for further discussion on the basis that the amount of external space proposed for a possible 2 form entry school did not meet DoE standards. The proposal was seconded by Councillor Rachel Shepherd-DuBey.
Resolved: That application no 172331 be deferred to allow further discussion between Education and the Planning Department.