Recommendation: Conditional approval
Proposal: Full planning application for the change of use of office accommodation (Use Class B1 (a)) to school (Use Class D1) to form an enlarged school, along with change of use of amenity land to school playing field, erection of single storey extensions, relocation of existing temporary classrooms and associated hard and soft landscape works.
Applicant: Wokingham Borough Council
The Committee received and reviewed a report about this application, set out in agenda pages 45 to 72. The Committee were advised that the members’ Update included reference to 3 additional comments received regarding this application.
Jim Leivers, WBC Assistant Director – Learning, Achievements and Partnerships, spoke in support of the application. Jim stated that the current building provided a poor level of facilities for pupils, and this application intended to improve these facilities by expanding the size of the school whilst reducing the number of people travelling to the school. Jim added that this application would improve the overall site so that the site was more secure for neighbours, pupils and staff. Jim stated that a number of meetings and dialogs had taken place with local residents, and the application would provide a safe environment for its pupils with better facilities to enable them to reach their full potential.
Andrew Mickleburgh queried whether an annual car parking management strategy could be implemented as part of this application, and sought clarification as to whether Highways had checked the visibility splays at the corner of Budges Gardens Road and whether as a result the site boundary needed to be moved a short (0.5m-1m) distance away from this corner. Judy Kelly, Highways Development Manager, clarified that the travel plan mechanism would be used to monitor various aspects including car park usage and school drop offs. Judy added that the travel plan would routinely be updated annually. Judy stated that the visibility from the corner of Budges Gardens Road was measured from 2.4m back from the junction and was considered acceptable in accordance with standards.
Gary Cowan raised concerns regarding the proposed increase in the site boundary towards Budges Gardens Road. Gary was of the opinion that this was not beneficial to the scheme, and several residents were not happy with this proposal. Jim Leivers clarified that there had been consultations and conversations with residents and local groups with regards to this application. Jim added that both sides of the proposed boundary were already owned by Wokingham Borough Council.
Pauline Jorgensen sought assurances that should the fence be moved at the boundary that it would be properly landscaped. Senjuti Manna, Case Officer, confirmed that landscaping would take place at the site boundary.
Abdul Loyes queried whether double yellow lines should be implemented outside of the entrance to the site to allow for emergency vehicle access. Simon Weeks suggested that double yellow lines were not implemented at this time and they do not always have the desired effect of stopping people parking.
Gary Cowan proposed an amendment to the recommendation, whereby the fence boundaries be retained in their current positions. This proposal was not seconded and subsequently fell.
RESOLVED That application number 19164 be approved, subject to conditions and informatives as set out in agenda pages 46 to 48.