Agenda item

Application No. 190881 - Addington SEN School, Woodlands Avenue, Woodley, RG5 3EU

Recommendation: Conditional Approval


Proposal: Full planning application for the erection of a new teaching block, extended car parking and the reconfiguration of the existing MUGAs and sensory garden.


Applicant: Wokingham Borough Council C/O DHA Planning Ltd


The Committee received and reviewed a report about this application, set out in agenda pages 111 to 152.


The Committee were advised that the Members’ Update included:


·           Clarification that agenda pages 127 to 142 were duplicated due to an administrative error;

·           Additional comments received;

·           Alteration to condition 6 to replace the word ‘provided’ with ‘implemented’;

·           Altered condition 9.


Jenny Lissaman, on behalf of the residents’ association, spoke in objection to the application. Jenny commented that the Committee had not undertaken a site visit for this application. Jenny was of the opinion that the application would allow a much loved open space to become lost and added that residents were becoming fatigued with a lack of consultation and compromise with developments in the area. Jenny queried why there was a need for the application to include a car park, when there was capacity at other local sites including the space owned by the University of Reading nearby. Jenny was of the opinion that the Officer report did not clarify how the new development would be screened, adding that a hedge would provide inadequate screening in the winter months. Jenny asked that the overall parking strategy for the area be evaluated in order to find a more amenable solution. Jenny added that Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) was ignoring its own policies with regards to this application, and asked that the application be taken away and revised.


Jim Leivers, WBC Interim Director of Children’s Services, spoke in support of the application. Jim stated that Addington was a brilliant school which had been rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. Jim added that without the proposed development resource WBC would be required to provide alternate services for the children Addington served. Jim concluded by stating that the application had been carefully considered and assessed by himself, the Head teacher and Planning Officers, and was a resource which was very much needed.


A number of Members queried whether there was a need for new parking provision, when considering that there was available parking locally. In addition, Carl Doran commented that the Site of Urban Landscape Value (SULV) was being constantly eroded, and the proposed car parking would add to this. Alex Thwaites, Case Officer, stated that from a planning perspective an increase pupil and staff numbers resulted in an increase in parking provision, and this had been assessed by highways and was deemed acceptable. Alex added that there had to be a balanced approach to the SULV as the parking had to be positioned somewhere on site. Alex added that the proposed main teaching block was positioned outside of the SULV. Simon Weeks stated that if the application was approved, Jim Leivers could enter discussions with the University of Reading to explore alternative options for parking.


Stephen Conway asked for clarification regarding screening of the proposed development, and sought clarification regarding the emergency planning Officer’s comments. Alex Thwaites stated that Woodlands Avenue would be screened from view, which would be secured by landscaping condition. Connor Corrigan, Service Manager – Strategic Development Locations Planning Delivery, stated that the emergency planning Officer had concerns about placing more development over a gas pipeline. Connor added that a Health and Safety Executive, gas pipeline operator, SGN and an independent consultant had been consulted and determined the risk to be minimal, for example a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of a minor event, such as a gas leak, to occur on the proposed development site.


Pauline Jorgensen queried why orange fencing was to be used at the proposed development. Alex Thwaites stated that this was a continuation of existing fencing and was required to stop access to the car park from other areas. Alex added that the fencing would be screened which was covered by condition.


Malcolm Richards queried when the construction work would take place and whether the proposed development would include sprinklers. Connor Corrigan stated that the construction work would be undertaken in a safe and considerate manner, with some of the construction taking place during term time. Connor confirmed that sprinklers would be included within the new teaching block.


Members of the Committee were unanimous in their opinion that Addington School was a brilliant resource that was in need of expansion and development in order to continue to provide excellent services to children across the Borough.


Simon Weeks proposed that the Officer recommendation be amended, to include a new informative that asked Addington School and its representatives to engage in conversation with the University of Reading to identify if an existing parking solution for the new development could be provided off site. This amendment was seconded by Chris Bowring and upon being put to a vote it was resolved that the recommendation be amended to include the above informative.


RESOLVED That application 190881 be approved, subject to conditions and informatives as set out in agenda pages 112 to 117, altered condition 6 and 9 as set out in the Members’ Update, and new informative 9 as resolved by the Committee.

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